The Columbia Valley RCMP detachment is opening its arms to welcome two new officers when constables Christine Steffler and Dustin Burch leave the detachment to pursue other opportunities following the September long weekend.
Constables Danny Butler and Francois Mazerolle will be taking their place and Staff Sgt. Marko Shehovac is confident each will be able to adapt to their new surroundings.
“I’m happy that we’re getting bodies in,” Shehovac said. “We’re getting some new faces, and some of the old ones are leaving for other adventures, and that’s part of being in the RCMP, is the constant moving around.”
Butler, who was born in raised in the West Kootenay, has spent the last five years in Lake Cowichan on Vancouver Island serving as a general duty police officer after graduating from the RCMP Academy in Regina. He says he’s glad to return to the mountains where he was raised and, while he isn’t completely familiar with Invermere, he feels like he won’t have any real difficulty adjusting.
“I love it here, I know it’s a place I’m not going to want to leave already… it’s not going to take long before it definitely becomes home,” Butler said. “It can be a little overwhelming at first, but work is work no matter where you go.”
An avid outdoorsman, Butler said that being able to come back to the Kootenays was a major draw for him and that he was looking forward to becoming more familiar with the community, and becoming more involved in general.
“(Becoming involved) is a huge part, I’m the same sort of mindset as [Shehovac], you’re not just another cop in a big city,” Butler said. “People start to ask for you, you gain trust and you gain respect and it makes things go smoothly… I like to get involved and get out there.”
For Mazerolle, this marks his first detachment placement after earning a bachelor in policing at the University of Montreal then graduating from the RCMP Academy. Hailing from Quebec, this is Mazerolle’s first time in British Columbia, and he said he is already looking forward to getting to know the community.
“It’s awesome, it seems full of challenges and the people have been really nice,” Mazerolle said. “The whole Columbia Valley just looks awesome, and I’m really looking forward to it.”
Mazerolle will spend the first six months being trained by Constable Andrew Michaud, to help him get adjusted to his first assignment. Mazerolle said he feels he has an incredible amount to learn as everything is new to him, and that he also has strong feelings about what it means to be an RCMP officer in a small community.
“I think that when you do policing, you do it for the community, so if you’re not part of the community you kind of miss the point,” Mazerolle said. “I think it’s really important… to be part of the community and be able to understand it while being a part of it.”
The detachment will also welcome a new cadet come October and Shehovac said that after she has been trained for roughly six months they will have a full complement of officers.