Local volunteers are stepping up to assist their local RCMP.
Training for the West Coast’s Auxiliary Constable program kicked off in January.
Auxiliaries are volunteers who wear similar uniforms to RCMP members and help increase police visibility at community events and on the beat. They have many of the same powers as regular police though they do not carry firearms.
The nation-wide program is designed to help incorporate citizens into community policing efforts and to help police detachments build relationships within their communities.
Const. Jarett Duncan of the Ucluelet RCMP coordinates the local auxiliary program and said longtime locals are valuable assets to police.
“They can give us that local knowledge which helps us, especially in a limited duration post where members just start understanding the area after four years and then they’re all of a sudden on their way out,” Duncan said.
“They’re there to complement us, help us integrate into the community and help us to become more involved in the community.”
He noted the volunteer opportunity serves as a stepping-stone for some auxiliaries to join the RCMP and said he was an auxiliary for two years before deciding to start a career with the RCMP.
“Their commitment is strictly voluntary, there’s no monetary compensation or anything like that but the experience that I think they learn from it benefits them as a person as well,” he said adding former Ucluelet auxiliary Peter Larkin recently became an official member of the RCMP.
“He got a good taste of what it was like, not from just TV shows, and could relate his experiences once he decided to apply for a regular member position and I think it definitely helped him, and it helped me too, to understand what an RCMP member would do on a daily basis.”
A handful of local auxiliary applicants started their training last week and those who pass the roughly three-month training program will be shared between the Tofino and Ucluelet detachments.
Duncan was thrilled with the amount of applicants the program received.
“That just shows you how giving and caring this community is,” he said.
“They’re willing to give their time, their personal life, their family life and change how they’re going to do things for the next three-and-a-half months because it’s going to be a lot for them to take in.”
The RCMP announced last week that auxiliaries are no longer allowed to go on ride-alongs with police.
This change was made through the RCMP’s ongoing review of its auxiliary program, which will include a national training standard, national policy update, and a uniform review.