Modern amenities, energy conservation, safety certified holding areas, efficient space planning and attractive public areas will influence policing strategy, capacity and focus in Fox Creek.
The new, state-of-the art RCMP detachment opened its doors to the public on March 14. Construction of the $3.2 million federally funded building commenced last spring.
The 4700 square foot facility, strategically located on Kaybob Drive renders efficient highway access, improved profile for residents and visitors, and eliminates residential noise disruption, “just ask the guy that lives across the street,” quipped Sergeant Jeff McBeth.
“This was an historic day for the town and the RCMP. We are closing the book on a 40 year story of the RCMP in Fox Creek, to open a new book and start a new chapter of what will, no doubt, be another 40 year story in a wonderful town. It’s absolutely fantastic.”
An Historical perspective
The former detachment, built in 1973, was situated in a residential area along Hammond Drive. It had very limited office space, diminutive storage, limited amenities and cell bars which no longer met current safety specifications.
From 1967-1972 local policing was managed by the Valleyview detachment. Corporal Roger Walsh and Constable Walter Chykalsky were the first members posted. (Source: Iosegun Reflections)
“We realize we cannot bring the history (from the former office), no amount of drywall,” paint or polish “can replace the huge history – it’s phenomenal,” said McBeth, appreciative of past officer’s service and efforts.
In a respectful and symbolic gesture, the flag from the old facility was raised at the new.
Future plans for the town owned building are uncertain.
The Virtual Tour
The two way entrance to the large paved parking lot connects walkways to the main building, stages the RCMP sign and the flags.
A phone box installed at the door accesses the office clerk if the door happens to be locked.
Currently conducting interviews to fill the vacant office clerk position, McBeth anticipates hiring within the month. The office clerk from Valleyview assists one day a week.
The facility amalgamates two service departments in shared office space. The Victim Services Unit (VSU) based in Whitecourt, in attendance monthly – on court days and community Bylaw Officer, Al Carrol share an office. RCMP and VSU are discussing increasing VSU’s accessibility to the community to once a week.
Pen and paper are implements of the past – no longer required in the audio and video equipped witness interview room. The hi-tech installations improve accuracy, efficiency and convenience for victims and officers. The new facility also includes a main meeting room, video cameras and telephone access throughout the building.
The ‘bull-pen’ or main office area is spacious and bright. Sergeant McBeth, Constables Harley Koehler, Mike Heysa, Steve Seidemann, Justin Baxter and Brydon Shea, have individual work spaces, desks and computers. A welcome change from the previous, space compromised, office. Paperwork is a large part of their duties.
Large windows and natural light pay tribute to passive solar benefits. “The natural sunlight is great,” said McBeth.
In addition to passive solar principles, the architectural planning incorporated environmentally friendly materials and energy conservation. Lights automatically shut off after five minutes, “If we run to a call, we don’t think to hit the light switch,” said the Sergeant.
A long, wide bulletin board lined hallway leads to several additional rooms, storage, furnace, lunchroom, fitness area, lockers, and gender specific shower facilities. There are also two separate custodial rooms; an aseptic arrangement implemented to prevent cross contamination and minimize health risks.
The fitness room includes a lined mirror wall, treadmill, medicine ball, weights and a multi-purpose machine.
Three cells, a ‘drunk tank’, an additional interview room for suspects and a modern forensics room for collecting photos, finger prints and breath samples, surpasses previous resources.
“We can see every cell, every second, right now,” said McBeth.
“It is all about to change.” The cell blocks, enable police to hold rather than release some offenders and ends having to transfer others to neighboring facilities - a necessity that added extra stress on Valleyview and Whitecourt detachments.
During the first week in the new location, five people were in custody – four for alcohol related offenses and one unknown.
“You will start seeing a trend, a change, and people making wiser choices. If you choose to drink – do it responsibly, call a cab, a friend or walk – don’t cause grief and don’t get behind a wheel,” said McBeth.
Community Risk Factors
“Drinking and driving is huge in every community,” Fox Creek is no exception. “That mentality will start to change quickly. We are now in the position to not tolerate it anymore.”
The top four local concerns:
- Alcohol abuse
- Break and Enter
McBeth reminds residents of the basic and most logical approach to policing – prevention; “Lock your doors and hide your valuables. Your home is your castle.”
There is the perception that Fox Creek has a drug problem. Sergeant McBeth clarifies, “We do not have a drug problem – We have a drug issue.” Incident reports, dominated by the top four, substantiate the claim.
“We are here to serve the people. It is our duty. If 99 times out of 100, we don’t catch a guy, but the one time we do – that’s our job and why we do what we do. We don’t want anyone to be a victim. We are here to respond to your concerns. If you see something suspicious, call it in, we need to know,” said the Sergeant.
“I have a great team and a fantastic relationship with the Fire Department and EMS. We are all on the same page – the town is blessed to have top-notch service people.”
“Fox Creek is a safe community, I am raising my kids here; we want you to be safe too,” said the Sergeant.
The detachment is responsible for an area extending from Little Smoky in the north to Two Creeks in the south.
“The true leader serves. Serves people. Serves their best interests, and in doing so will not always be popular, may not always impress. But because true leaders are motivated by loving concern than a desire for personal glory, they are willing to pay the price.” — Eugene B. Habecker Author Rediscovering the Soul of LeadershipPrint This Post