The Cranbrook RCMP detachment has a new commander, as S/Sgt. Hector Lee has transferred in from the Lower Mainland to replace the outgoing S/Sgt. Dave Dubnyk, who accepted a promotion in Edmonton.
Officially starting at the end of September, S/Sgt. Lee has already settled down into the community and familiarized himself with the needs and demands of his 29-member detachment.
Though coming in from Coquitlam, policing in small communities is no strange task for him, as he’s been posted in large and small centres around B.C. and Alberta over his 24-year career in the RCMP.
However, he’s hoping his latest stop in Cranbrook will be more permanent.
“The attraction was, number one, the size of the town and the size of the detachment and getting back to a grassroots-type policing, back to a small town where the relationship with the community is more apparent and is more important, in my eyes,” S/Sgt. Lee said.
“A lot of our staff are pretty deeply rooted in Cranbrook, they’ve been here for a while, and a lot of our constables have been here for quite a few years now.
It’s a kind of community you really can get rooted into. It’s got everything here, it’s got all the amenities you want, but it’s got a small-town feel.”
An avid golfer, the appeal of all the nearby links didn’t hurt as well.
In Coquitlam he served as a watch commander of a patrol unit and was an acting operations officer. Before Coquitlam, he’d spent three years in nearby Ridge Meadows.
Over the course of his career, he’s handled all kinds of law enforcement responsibilities, such as general duty, operations, unit commander, street enforcement, national security, serious crime and school liaison.
There is very much a difference in policing between large cities such as Coquitlam and smaller towns, such as Hazleton, where’d he worked in a previous posting.
“Big centres—fast-paced, people want things now, it’s not as personable, it’s more like band-aid policing,” S/Sgt. Lee said. “You don’t have the same kind of influence and impact you do in a small community.”
In smaller centres, there are more opportunities to build stronger relationships with the community.
“The biggest benefit was the community involvement and community engagement that can actually make an impact on people and influence kids the right way,” S/Sgt. Lee added.
While Lee admits that crime isn’t ‘super-high’ in Cranbrook, there are a few other challenges that local RCMP deal with, namely with a few transients travelling to and from the West Coast and the prairies.
“Whether those transients stay or are here short-term—I’m not saying all transients are bad folk—but there are some who come here with a purpose and they come to wreak havoc for a little while and part of my job is to make sure that our folks stay on top of things like that,” S/Sgt. Lee said.
“One of my challenges is making sure we’re adequately staffed here, making sure we’re having the right people in the right places, making sure that our members here feel part of the community and that they’re engaged with the community, because that’s a big part to me, in having a successful detachment, is having members that do feel like they’re part of the community and are engaged that way.”