RCMP detachments in the Sea to Sky corridor are currently accepting applications for eleven new auxiliary officers in an effort to beef up their policing roster.
The RCMP hope to have four more fully trained auxiliary officers in Whistler, two more in Pemberton and another five in Squamish by this time next year.
Auxiliary officers are considered peace officers. They are unpaid volunteers that commit a minimum of 160 hours per year. They don’t carry guns, but they are authorized to make arrests when necessary. They participate in ride-alongs, the Neighborhood Watch program, foot patrol, roadblocks and they respond to emergency situations as they arise.
Constable Tara Merrie said RCMP staffing numbers have been declining recently and the eleven new officers are part of a ramped up initiative to bolster the RCMP’s Sea to Sky detachments.
“In Whistler and Pemberton we have just four auxiliary officers between the two municipalities. People are constantly moving out of the area for job changes, travelling and family reasons so we are finding a lack in staffing numbers right now,” explained Const. Merrie. “We don’t have a spike in crime we just have a lack in available Auxiliary members. On top of being under staffed, our current auxiliary officers are juggling their day jobs, family life and social life with being an officer so we’re finding that we aren’t getting as much police support that we normally would have available.”
Whistler auxiliary officer Jennifer Cham can relate to the challenges of balancing her day job with the RCMP but she claims all the training is worth it in the end.
“As an auxiliary officer I find satisfaction when I know that I made a direct impact in making the community safer. One time there was a break-in at a local business. We were on the scene immediately and were able to track down the accused immediately and make an arrest.”
Part of Officer Cham’s training included judo lessons with the Vancouver RCMP, which she said comes in handy during physical altercations.
“As a nurse I find that I try to focus more on my verbal communication with patients and physical communication is secondary, this is the same when I’m on the job as an auxiliary officer. However, we do get a lot of physical training and it has opened up a whole new world that I hadn’t explored a lot of. With my judo training I can now flip grown adults onto the ground.”
The RCMP has an extensive application process. Upon completing an application form, aspiring auxiliary officers go through an intensive security screening process, undergo physical testing and approximately 160 hours of training which can take up to a year to complete.
Recruiting has already begun and the local RCMP will be accepting applications until Sept. 15, 2012.
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