Officer from Harbour Grace RCMP detachment recognized for bravery
Cpl. David Hopkins kept injured colleague safe, successfully intervened with person intending to self-harm
Cpl. David Hopkins from the Harbour Grace RCMP detachment was recently recognized for bravely handling a tense situation that was far from routine.
Hopkins, a Halifax native who came to Newfoundland last August after transferring from Alberta, was awarded the Commander’s Commendation for Bravery at a ceremony earlier this month.
“It made me think back to the situation again, but in a good way,” he told The Compass. “We got through something and we were able to do it in a way where everybody got out of there.”
The honour came about through his role in deescalating a serious incident involving a suspect who was on the verge of committing self-harm. There’d been some gunfire, and one of Hopkins fellow officers was injured. The incident happened approximately four years ago while he was working in Alberta.
“Even though this person we had to engage with and interact with to try and get them from doing what they’re doing, we still want to do that safely,” he said. “It’s our goal to get everybody out of that situation with as little harm as possible.”
It wasn’t the sort of situation Hopkins came across every day. The first priority was to get the injured officer out of harm’s way. After that, the focus turned to getting the suspect to surrender. It was not his first experience with gunfire.
“When I was in Alberta, there was quite a few situations with shots fired,” he said.
Handling stressful situations where there’s a potential for any number of outcomes (with some being particularly unwanted) comes with the job for Hopkins, who told The Compass a combination of training and general experience helps him in such instances.
“With training, you still need to have that real-life experience whatever the situation is, and some things are more stressful for people than other things. Whether it’s a house fire compared to a weapons complaint — it’s a total different type of stress. And how people react when under stress, it’s hard to teach that regardless, because you never know how someone is going to react,” Hopkins said. “Myself, I focus on whatever the task is. If it’s to make sure everyone is OK, that’s the first thing, and then you just go from there and build your tasks, and hopefully accomplish everything.”
Despite having to face tough assignments on a regular basis, Hopkins finds his work can be exhilarating at times.
“You’re constantly having to think and make quick decisions and take the lead on things,” he said. “Obviously, it’s not for everybody, but there is a (sense of) accomplishment when you get things done.”
Hopkins comes from a family of first responders. His father and uncle were both district chiefs with the fire department in Halifax, and he has a grandfather who was a police officer in the same city.
“When I was looking at a career where I could do something different and not have a normal 9-5 job, I got interested, went to an information session in Halifax and ended up joining. 10 years later I’m here!”
Hopkins played a lot of hockey in his youth and took plenty of trips to Newfoundland and Labrador for tournaments.
“I loved it here, and I applied for a position here because I liked the area, and I love every part of it so far.”