Two new police officers have joined the Columbia Valley RCMP, with two more on the way, following a series of transfers that have resulted in three officers moving on.
Constable Margaret Tracz had been in service for 12 years before lobbying to move to the Valley, while constable Brennan Kish came to Invermere after completing his police training in 2018.
A dream remembered
Cst. Tracz considers police officers to be “a nomadic people,” but sought out her post in the Valley and intends to stay for the foreseeable future. She’s served in Sherwood Park, Alberta and Fort MacMurray, Alberta but when she visited the Valley a year ago she knew she wanted to return.
“I requested to come to Invermere because I think it’s a beautiful spot and the lifestyle is up to my par,” she said.
She is already feeling settled after two months in the Valley and has been running, biking, hiking and enjoying the hot springs in her spare time.
“I love it. It’s a different type of policing in the way where you can create your own files. You can actually spend a good chunk of your time investigating. The people here are great, and I love the feel of the small community as well,” she said.
While she first wanted to be a police officer when she was in elementary school, she lost track of that dream until her mid-20s.
“It just took me a little bit to get here. I took environmental engineering in college and then I did some tree planting and then I did some cherry picking and then I kind of woke up,” she said. “Maybe it just took me that many years to remember what I really wanted to do.”
But now that she’s found her career fit, she’s proud to serve her communities and do her part to make them safer. For instance, she finds pulling over drunk drivers rewarding when she thinks of the harm she may be preventing.
Once as she was driving around, she witnessed a break-and-enter in progress and was able to stop and catch the perpetrator.
“I like to put puzzles together so if there’s a problem and I can… try to find evidence and piece it together and I can find a resolution or if I can actually find the culprit, it makes me feel good,” she said. “I really like variety. I like attending to every call and just meeting people from different walks of life.”
New recruit “super happy” with posting
Cst. Kish is new to the Valley and the RCMP, having arrived to his post in early June.
While the Valley wasn’t his top choice for a location since his friends and family are back in the Lower Mainland, he’s “super happy” with his placement.
“An RCMP recruit has to be willing to relocate anywhere. So you sign on the dotted line and you say I’m going to go wherever the RCMP takes me,” he said. “The Columbia Valley RCMP is, in my opinion, phenomenal. It’s got a great morale. It’s got a great team.”
He’s also pleased to be placed in a community with so much potential for hiking, cruising in an ATV and enjoying the outdoors.
Cst. Kish, 22, earned his degree in business administration before going into policing. With many career paths available within the RCMP, his plan is to dabble in everything as a general-duty constable until he discovers his preferences and potentially finds an opportunity to put his degree to work.
“Business applies to everything so I feel like eventually I can use that within the RCMP,” he said.
Weeks into his role, Cst. Kish has already responded to everything from animal calls to car accidents to assaults to domestic-violence situations. He’s also donned his red serge for Bull Riding in the Rockies, the 2019 Grad March and the Canada Day celebrations where he estimates that he posed for hundreds of photos.
“Sometimes you’re there for people on their best days and sometimes you’re there for people on their worst days,” he said. “One minute you can be doing proactive policing – be it hanging out with children and working with them to help them develop and grow – and in another moment you could be responding to a motor vehicle incident or you could be out doing boat patrols or bike patrols or working at the rodeo.”
But whatever his files include, he appreciates having the opportunity to carry them forward until they’re resolved.
“When you’re working in a smaller community like this, you are kind of it. Of course there’s outside resources that we can pull in, but in a lot of cases you’re working a file from beginning to end,” he said.
“I’ve got a lot of closed files. I’ve got a few ongoing as well where I am still investigating them. It’s really nice to be able to show up to something, deal with it and get it done, but it’s also really nice to be able to take some extra time for the cases that require it and do that investigating and figure it out.”