New top cop for Castlegar

Kyra Hoggan
By Kyra Hoggan
November 26th, 2009

Castlegar, get ready to welcome a new top cop.

RCMP Sgt. Laurel Mathew, 43, is now at the helm of the city’s police detachment, and says she’s looking forward to getting to know her new community.

Originally hailing from Red Deer, Alta., Mathew is a 19-year veteran of the RCMP, having served her entire uniformed career in B.C.

“I was really influenced as a kid by one of our local police officers (in Sylvan Lake),” she says. “I loved what he was able to do, keeping the community safe and just being our go-to guy (he was also a baseball coach and heavily involved in the community, both on- and off-duty).

“I remember thinking that as a young kid: ‘I want to be that one day,’” she says.
She said entering a non-traditional field for her gender was kind of a non-issue – women had already broken the barrier and been accepted on the force since 1974, with growing numbers of female members swelling RCMP ranks in the intervening years.

“It’s becoming far less rare to see female members and commanders,” she said.

No stranger to command herself, Mathew’s first posting was in Agassiz, from whence she headed to Chilliwack and served roughly six years on general duty assignments before moving to serious crimes. After five years there, Mathew was promoted to team leader …then threw her hat in the ring for the Castlegar command.

“It’s a great opportunity (career wise), and I wanted to go a little farther east, a little closer to home,” she says. “On my way to visit family in Alberta, I would drive through this area and think ‘this is where I need to be,’ … the air is cleaner, I like the seasons, I like the small-town atmosphere.”

So when the opportunity arose, Mathew packed up her two beloved dogs (Meggie the Chihuahua, and Shadow the Poodle) and headed east, taking up her new post this past Monday.

She says she’s still getting her bearings, learning about the community and its people, and can’t say, yet, what differences Castlegar will offer as compared to a Lower Mainland metropolis like Chilliwack.

“It’s too early to say … I don’t think you guys have the gang problems here …there are probably other different issues, too,” she says. “Especially coming in as detachment commander, I’m hoping to be able to spend more time learning Castlegar priorities and values so I can take a proactive approach to policing; get involved with the community.”

No matter what new challenges her Castlegar tenure holds, though, Mathew says she intends to approach them with humour and good will.

“The day I no longer like what I’m doing is the day I won’t do it anymore,” she says. “I want to be able to make a difference and enjoy doing it.”



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