It’s going to be a busy summer for Sgt. Blaine Mumford.
The Tofino RCMP’s detachment commander is temporarily filling Ucluelet’s detachment commander role until a more permanent solution can be found.
“I’m filling that role just as if there was a new detachment commander here, it’s just that I also have Tofino to look after,” Mumford told the Westerly News. “All the kind of stuff that any detachment commander looks after; I’m that guy right now, temporarily.”
The RCMP is currently searching for an officer to take the Ucluelet detachment’s helm but a new commander is not expected until the fall.
“The hopeful part of me likes to think that by October, someone will be in place,” Mumford said. “No one can really put an exact date on it. That promotional process takes time and it has defined stages that it goes through.”
He acknowledged handling both detachments during summer’s busy season is a daunting task but said he’s comfortable with the additional workload.
“I recognize that it’s going to be busy and it’s going to be more stressful for me and extra work, but I’m not a stranger to extra work and overtime and that kind of thing,” he said.
“I’m totally confident that we’re going to handle it and things are going to go very well. But, I’m not fooling myself into thinking that it’s going to be a cakewalk. It will be a busy summer.”
He said he has never headed two detachments at once but noted the situation is not unheard of.
“It is not unique,” he said. “It has happened in the past and it’s actually gone the other way here on the West Coast where Ucluelet has temporarily covered off Tofino in a similar kind of situation.”
He added he is familiar with the Ucluelet RCMP and has been impressed by what he’s seen at the detachment.
“I’ve known these members for a year-and-a-half because I’ve been up in Tofino and they’re great,” he said. “They’re all fantastic and I think Ucluelet’s lucky to have the specific people that they have as well as the level of resources they have when everyone is occupied in their positions.”
Ucluelet’s municipal council expressed concern over the temporary arrangement during their May 24 regular meeting where Dianne St. Jacques questioned how Ucluelet’s RCMP services would be maintained during the summer without a full-time commander.
Mumford assured the West Coast’s police would supplement each other to maintain a high level of service.
“You’re going to get the same level of service. It might look a little different because Tofino police officers and Ucluelet police officers are going to be, probably more so than in the past, supporting each other so you’ll see people in each town that you maybe haven’t seen around as much,” he said.
“Temporarily, people are going to get the same level of service. For us to provide that we’re going to be jigging things around a little bit in the background to make sure we can do it…When vacancies happen, obviously, we have to fill those situations with overtime, shifting schedules around and things like that and we will do that.”
The Tofino and Ucluelet RCMP will continue working more closely together than usual even after a new commander arrives as Tofino’s current detachment is set to be demolished to make room for a new detachment at the same 400 Campbell St. location. While construction is ongoing, the Tofino RCMP will be operating out of a temporary detachment being set up at 250 Lone Cone Rd.
“When the Tofino detachment moves into the temporary location, we won’t have the ability to house prisoners so we’ll bring them to Ucluelet only as necessary,” Mumford said adding the demolishment project probably won’t kick until the winter.
“I know the stages that have to happen between now and actually putting a shovel in the ground and I would say that if it happened any sooner than November I’d be really surprised.”
Despite housing prisoners from both communities, Mumford said it’s unlikely the Ucluelet detachment’s cells would surpass their maximum capacity.
“We try not to arrest if we don’t have to anyway but there are situations where we might be able to arrest and release in Tofino so if that’s the case then we’ll just do that and we won’t have to worry about it,” he said. “But, when we do have to lodge someone in cells, and we will, we’ll be bringing them to Ucluelet and we’ll be using Tofino guarding resources and Ucluelet guarding resources to manage that extra work load.”
He added prisoner transport would also flow smoothly between towns.
“That will happen in many different ways and it happens now,” he said. “There are times when Tofino is unable to locate a guard, or Ucluelet is unable to locate a guard, so a prisoner from one community or the other spends that time, however many hours it might be in cells, in the other community and then we almost always arrange for that person to get back to their own town.”
He encourages anyone with questions about the temporary arrangement, or local policing in general, to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We’re going to do as good a job as we possibly can to make sure that people don’t even really notice a difference but if they do and if there’s something that’s happening that they’re concerned about or if they have questions or thoughts they can always get ahold of me,” he said.