Although he arrived in Kimberley a few weeks ago, our city’s new RCMP detachment commander Sgt. Steven Woodcox had his first day on the job on Monday, Nov. 23.
Woodcox spent the last four or five years working up north in both Dease Lake and the Atlin area near the Yukon border.
That area drew the attention of the world last year with the two-week manhunt for Port Alberni teenage murderers Bryer Schmegelsky and Kam McLeod.
“Never expected that up there I have to say,” Woodcox said in his first interview with the Bulletin. “World attention was on a little spot in the middle of nowhere and interesting is one word to use, but very sad for the people it happened to. And in an area with very little resources, so if you need help up there it takes almost a day for people to travel up and help so you learn to use what you have until the help arrives.”
Before that he spent around 15 years with the Kelowna detachment.
While living in the Okanagan, he and his wife would often vacation in the Kootenays, and they enjoyed the weather, the friendly people and the pace of life that comes along with the area.
“It was always an area we were looking at transferring to and the opportunity came up to take over Kimberley and we definitely jumped at that when it became available,” Woodcox said.
He said he’s been enjoying his first few weeks here and has been settling in nicely.
“Everyone we’ve met’s been super, super friendly and it’s more of a laid back attitude than the Okanagan was and everyone’s not in such a hurry to get everywhere which we really like,” he said. “You have a lot of great weather and a lot of sunshine so we’re very grateful for that, it definitely gives you energy.”
He added that he’s moved around a great deal throughout essentially his whole life. He’s moved around while working with the RCMP and before that, his father was in the Armed Forces so he moved a lot in his youth as well.
“I’m getting towards the end of my career as well and it’s nice to find a place and maybe think about settling and staying for a few years.”
While enjoying the prospect of settling in here for a long haul, his years spent moving to different parts of the country have helped shape the person he is today.
“The one thing I have learned from going to a lot of communities is the RCMP does give you the opportunity, if you want, to move to a lot of places and see a lot of different communities, the issues they have, meet a lot of people that sometimes have a lot less than anyone else and find a lot of the giving qualities in people that you learn from. I think every place you go there’s different challenges and all that helps you build into the person you are.”
Woodcox describes himself as a very personal person, who likes to make contact with people, which of course has been made more complicated with the restrictions imposed by the pandemic.
“I’m always someone that likes to give people the time of day,” he said. “I think if you extend yourself to a lot of the people and the clients that we deal with that people appreciate the fact that you actually have time to give to people to help solve their problems.
“Although we’re not able to solve every problem in life, definitely I think the fact that you’re willing to give some of your own time goes a long ways to try and build relationships with the community.”
Woodcox reached out to our former detachment commander Sgt. Chris Newel ahead of starting at the new position, and talked about the area, the community and some of the issues particular to Kimberley.
“He couldn’t speak highly enough about everyone here and even people in the community spoke very highly of Sgt. Newel,” he said.
“It’s nice to actually come to an area where a lot of that work has been put in and it seems to be a very positive attitude between the police and the community. I’ve been to a lot of communities in the past where that relationship has been strained and it takes a lot of work to build back up but definitely here that relationship seems to be strong.”
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