May 12 – 18 was National Police Week, and the McBride office of the RCMP celebrated with an open house on Thursday May 16. Dozens of McBride residents, some young, and some who have lived here for decades, gathered to celebrate our local force.
Constable Pete Berndsen or ‘Pete the Heat’ as he is known locally, took my wife and I on a tour through our local police headquarters where four officers and one full time clerical staff cover the large piece of geography from Dome Creek to Tete Jaune. Constable Berndsen, an RCMP veteran of 36 years, spoke with warm thoughts of the privilege of working in these outstanding facilities. He displayed for us the pepper spray facilities, the drunk tank, regular cells, and alcohol testing equipment, as well as the snow machines and quads used in the exercise of duty.
New member Sergeant Darren Woroshelo was in attendance along with a number of officers from Valemount and Prince George. One of the special dog handling teams on hand from Prince George combined their talents to give a demonstration of how the two officers and their partner ‘Police Dog Astro’ work together. Constable Drumerinski is now on his second cycle (dogs retire at 8 years old) and will complete three more years before Astro is retired for another new dog. Constable Belak who was the junior partner on the team and is himself in training to be a canine handler was the victim (protected in his special gear) as Astro sought him out and attacked him. Astro made short work of finding drugs and as was explained to the crowd he is especially trained to deal with explosive concerns as well. Constable Drumerinski and Astro worked at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver and at the G8 Summit recently.
With most of the officers dressed in their traditional street uniforms it fell to Corporal Kennedy to wear the Red Serge dress which has long been the ceremonial dress attire for the RCMP.
Constable Berndsen spoke eloquently and with obvious pride about the low crime statistics evidenced here in McBride, indicating that it had only been necessary to use the overnight holding cells on 9 occasions so far this year.
Over all the evening was quite enjoyable and informative. Constable Berndsen had me try out the holding cells, the Breathalizer, and the booking camera complete with numbers. Corporal Kennedy smiled and treated all as a Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer should – with respect and kindness. Constable Fox stood by ready to assist should anything be needed. With School Principal Derrick Shaw manning the grill to feed all those assembled and Constables Drumerinski and Belak demonstrating how a K9 unit works, those in attendance were treated to a wonderful chance to get to know their local RCMP officers better.
Police Week is one special time a year when we stop and take the time to think about all the RCMP does for us, our Village, and our Country. It is with humblest gratitude we say Thank You to the RCMP for all that they do and for doing their best to keep us all safe.
By: Chris Parker