Continuing with our series on our own hometown heroes, the front line workers, this week we focus on the RCMP.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has changed some things for RCMP members, it has not changed their basic mission to protect the community they serve.
“In the initial stages considerable effort was put forth by the RCMP to ensure the safety of our members,” said Kimberley Detachment Commander Sgt. Chris Newel. “Officers still needed to respond for calls for service but we modified our response. Proper protocols were put in place to limit potential exposure and the possibly of members contracting the virus.
“We are still and will continue to respond to calls for service but have adapted to the situation and challenging circumstances.”
Cst. Scott Payne explained how officers are adapting.
“My job as a Police Officer here in Kimberley hasn’t changed too much,” he said. “We are practising social distancing, like most people, as best we can. As you can imagine there are certain circumstances where we need to be close to others and/or hands on, like affecting an arrest, for example. We have all been provided with PPE and training so we can protect the public and ourselves. We’ve always been trained to keep distance between us and the public while interacting for safety reasons, but now it’s the norm for everyone. As you know we don’t have a big detachment here in Kimberley, with very few people in the building at one time, this made it a lot easier for us to adapt to the distancing protocols compared some larger detachments. We do clean the detachment on a daily basis and officers are now cleaning the vehicles/work stations prior to, and at the end of, shifts. We will also clean after transporting anyone in the vehicles. Like everyone, we are doing more cleaning, more often.
“People in Kimberley and surrounding areas have responded very well to this pandemic and we haven’t seen a huge surge in COVID 19 related calls although there have been some. Overall my job hasn’t changed too much. I may respond to calls over the phone rather than in person a little bit more when it’s possible, but other than that I’m doing like most everyone else, washing my hands, keeping my distance when possible, wearing gloves, and a mask/glasses/face shield when needed.”
Payne says that staying calm has been key.
“I think near the beginning of this pandemic, back in March, society in general was on edge, but the RCMP team here in Kimberley stayed quite calm. Like everyone, we weren’t really sure how it was going to play out, how bad things might get, or what changes may come to our job. I’m not sure this should be considered an advantage, but with our job we are use to, and trained to, respond to dynamic situations with a lot of unknowns. None of us here have worked through a global pandemic before, but we are just taking it one day at a time. We have a solid group officers here in Kimberley, we’ve always relied on each other to get through difficult situations, and this pandemic has been no different.
“For myself I think I worried more about my parents back in Ontario as this pandemic unfolded, but they’ve done very well so far. One thing I’ve learned as a Police Officer is to not let things build up. If something is bothering you, it needs to be talked about. That may be with my wife, family, or coworkers. Little things can easily fester into big things if they are not dealt with. I think all of us at the Kimberley Detachment are very comfortable talking to each other, and leaning on each other if anything is bothering us.”
Things are of course different at home as well.
“Our home lives have changed like most people, with kids being home, partners working from home or laid off etc. These changes, like everyone is experiencing, definitely put some strain us. Personally, my family life has changed mostly due to my children being home all day. Luckily they are old enough to stay home by themselves. Sometimes it makes it bit hard to sleep during the day after night shift, but they’ve been pretty good at staying quiet for me. We have to organize time on our computer for school work and make sure it is getting done. Assisting with high school math and science can be challenging for us parents, but thanks to Google we can usually figure it out.
“As a family we like to go on biking adventures all over western Canada and the USA, but obviously this has affected everyone and their travel plans. I don’t think we have too much to complain about though when you look at the big picture, as we live in an amazing town with great biking/hiking/etc. right in our backyard. I think the social distancing has been harder for the kids not being able to hang out very much with their friends, have sleep overs, playing on sports teams etc. They won’t admit it, but I think they are missing not being able to go to school.”
And one more message for Kimberley residents.
“All I’d like to add is big thank you to the community for doing their part. With all the stressors people have endured during this pandemic, Kimberley and surrounding area have definitely kept their cool, and are doing a great job getting through this.”
Thank you, Cst. Payne and all our local RCMP officers. We think you’re doing a great job too.