Of­fi­cer from Har­bour Grace RCMP de­tach­ment rec­og­nized for brav­ery

Cpl. David Hop­kins kept in­jured colleague safe, suc­cess­fully in­ter­vened with per­son in­tend­ing to self-harm

The Compass - - Front page - BY AN­DREW ROBIN­SON

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.”

RCMP PHOTO

Cpl. David Hop­kins from the RCMP’s Har­bour Grace de­tach­ment was the re­cent re­cip­i­ent of the Com­man­der’s Com­men­da­tion for Brav­ery honour.

RCMP PHOTO

Sgt.-Maj. Doug Pack, left, and Cpl. David Hop­kins at the RCMP New­found­land and Labrador awards event, which was held ear­lier this month.

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