We’d already lamented over losing this battle, but it turns out we won.
Sgt. Jeff Swann has accepted a new position with the RCMP that will allow him to stay in Ucluelet for at least three more years.
Swann was selected, by an Island-wide vote of RCMP members and staff, to be one of two Member Workplace Advisors on Vancouver Island.
“It’s a new position that the RCMP has created to provide individual advice, support, guidance and workplace representation to members on any kind of individual basis,” Swann told the Westerly News. “That includes administrative support, emotional support, moral support and workplace representation…It seeks to resolve workplace issues at the lowest possible level by empowering members and managers.”
His new position starts May 9 and, while he will remain stationed in Ucluelet, he will cover central-north Vancouver Island.
“You’re voted in by the members and staff on Vancouver Island,” Swann said. “It was an anonymous survey vote held at the end of March and I was lucky enough to get the majority vote.”
He said the position comes with a three-year term and will include a heavy dose of Island travel.
“The plan for me and my family is to stay here in Ucluelet. The job will entail some traveling but the RCMP saves a lot of money without having to transfer me and the West Coast benefits because they’ve got an extra police officer here and I can lend a hand if needed,” he said.
The 20-year RCMP veteran has been stationed in Ucluelet since 2009 but was slated for a forced transfer due to the detachment’s limited duration posting policy. He, and the community, fought hard to encourage the RCMP to nix this policy and let him stay but Swann received transfer papers to Port Alberni’s detachment last year.
That transfer has now been cancelled and Swann fought back tears while describing the emotions he felt when he received the call advising him that he and his family would be staying in Ucluelet.
“I get to stay here. I get to live in paradise. I get to work for an organization that I absolutely love and I get an opportunity to try to better that organization as a whole,” he said. “The entire family is ecstatic about getting the opportunity to live in paradise; the friendships that we’ve made and the support we’ve received…there’s such a sense of community here and that’s what’s kept us here.”
Swann and his wife Naomie first found the West Coast during a 2003 vacation and they both instantly fell in love with the community and its surroundings.
“We both said at that time that we wanted to live and work here if we could make it work. Unfortunately I came home with a, ‘Honey, we’re going to Ft. St. John,’ as opposed to a, ‘Honey, we’re going to Ucluelet,’ but in a roundabout way we’ve gotten here when we needed to and this is where we need to be,” he said.
With 20 years of service and four different detachments notched in his belt, Swann believes he is well suited for his new advisory role.
“I love this organization and my role in this organization is to try to resolve any discrepancies or disputes,” he said.
“It’s going to create less animosity between the big wheel that is the RCMP and all the individual members and civilian employees who are little cogs in that wheel; you can get churned up and churned through that and, I think, having somebody with 20 years service looking out for them is a great step that the RCMP is taking…It’s going to make it that much happier of a place to work.”
He said the support he received during the town’s fight to keep him in Ucluelet was heartwarming and will fuel his new pursuit.
“I remember the emotion of that and the community drive and the support and the letters of support that were dropped off. People I’d never met came into the office and said, ‘Hey, you made a difference,’” he said.
“Now I’m using that energy and taking all that support, that Ucluelet love, and I’m pushing it forward to North Vancouver Island…to share that wealth of experience with anybody who’s got an internal issue with the RCMP, try to mend those bridges and make the organization even stronger.”