Ucluelet has lost its battle with the RCMP over popular police chief Sgt. Jeff Swann.
Swann, who took command of the local detachment in 2009, had requested a third extension to his limited duration posting in Ucluelet but, despite support from Ucluelet’s municipal council, business community and the community at large, this request was denied by the RCMP.
He had previously received two one-year extensions on his three-year posting.
Sgt. George Jenkins is en route from Salt Spring Island and is expected to take the Ukee detachment’s helm in early February.
Swann told the Westerly News he will stay in town until his house sells.
“Until such time as a valid buyer comes and buys the house then we’re here and I’ll continue to work,” he said.
“My role as detachment commander will come to an end but I will still be a community member and an active and engaged police officer in this town.”
He assured working with his replacement would not be awkward or present a distraction within the detachment.
“It will be a unique situation for sure, having two sergeants, but we’re all professionals,” he said.
“[Sgt. Jenkins] will come in here and slide in like a natural and I’m here to lend support to him where I can.”
Once his house has sold, Swann and his family will move to Port Alberni where he will take his new position with the Port Alberni RCMP.
“We’ve obviously fallen in love with Ucluelet and I was fighting to stay here. I lost the battle but you put your head up high, you do up your boots the next day and you go to work,” Swann said.
“The next chapter for the Swann family will be in Port Alberni.”
Coun. Sally Mole said Ucluelet’s municipal council put a lot of energy into pleading with the RCMP to nix the detachment’s three-year posting label and allow Swann to stay.
She suggested council is still discussing whether to continue pushing for the removal of the limited duration posting label with Swann already on his way out.
“We could get someone that we love and want to keep again, we may get someone we don’t love and I’ve seen that happen before too so I don’t know that council’s actually got consensus on whether the limited duration post is a good thing or not,” she said.
“We definitely have asked questions about how we can be a bit flexible with that depending on the community’s love, or not, of the new person.”
Mole is also the executive director of Ucluelet’s chamber of commerce and organized a letter writing campaign to give local businesses an avenue to voice their opinion.
“We had overwhelming support from the business community as well as the community itself,” she said adding that about 62 letters in support of Swann being allowed to stay were compiled and sent.
“That’s just the ones we know about, other people sent their own letters directly,” she said.
She said council hopes to set up a meeting with the new detachment commander as soon as possible.
“I think the whole community is disappointed. It’s a pretty big part of our community that we’re about to lose…but unfortunately we are where we are,” she said.
“That being said, I feel for the new person coming in. It would be a difficult situation, if it was me in that situation I would find it difficult, so I’m wishing that person the very, very, best and I’m sure the community does too but we will miss Jeff in that role in our community for sure.”
She hopes to see the relationships Swann established through his community policing efforts continue.
“The community is really hopeful that the relationships that have been built and really well established with the RCMP continue, from my point of view, especially with the youth and some of those things that we really made strides in,” she said.
“We’ve got a good base there and I hope it continues to build.”