Kootenay RCMP dancing the Top Cop Shuffle
Residents may find themselves confusedly trying to understand who’s at the helm of our local police detachments, as RCMP work to manage staff shortages and attrition while still providing optimal service delivery.
In Castlegar, Top Cop Sgt. Laurel Mathew retired June 6, leaving now-Acting Sgt. Brett Turner at the helm for the time being. However, in August, former Trail Top Cop Sgt. Darren Oelke will be taking over as NCO/ic of Castlegar.
As Oelke is off for this month, that leaves now-Acting Sgt. Devon Reid (Castlegar residents will likely remember his name from a few years back, when he served with the Castlegar contingent) in charge in Trail. Starting in August, however, Trail residents will be seeing yet another familiar name assuming the mantle of command: Sgt. Mike Wicentowich, currently the Operations NCO for the Kootenay Boundary Regional Detachment, and an 18-year veteran of the force.
In Grand Forks, we have Acting Sgt. Philip Crack in charge after former NCO Jim Fenske was promoted to Kitimat.
The officer in charge of the whole region, Insp. Tim Olmstead, is himself a new transplant, having hailed originally from B.C., but recently transferring here from Winnipeg on March 1 to replace the now-retired Inspector Tom Roy.
Olmstead acknowledged the challenge staff shortages are creating for the RCMP, with many officers choosing to work for municipal departments instead.
“Natural attrition and soft vacancies (sick leave, maternity, etc.) are very large components as well,” he said. “We are running very short.”