A new police chief is on his way to Ucluelet.
Cpl. Steve Mancini is moving from Barriere, B.C., to head up the Ucluelet’s RCMP detachment, which has been without a commander at the helm since February, 2016.
Mancini’s posting is the result of a first-time process that saw Ucluelet, the Ucluelet First Nation and RCMP brass, interviewing the position’s top candidates together.
“We appreciate how things have worked out,” Ucluelet mayor Dianne St. Jacques told the Westerly News.
“We’re disappointed with the length of time it took of course, but I think everybody is. We like this new way of doing business and we look forward to great partnerships continuing with the RCMP.”
She said Mancini came off well during his interview and seemed liked a solid fit for Ucluelet.
“We thought he was great,” she said.
“He had spent time in the community. He seemed to have done his homework in regards to what we’re about and what’s important to us. He’s worked in small communities and large communities before. My sense was he had good leadership qualities and would be a good fit for us.”
She added she was happy to see the RCMP listen to both Ucluelet and the Ucluelet First Nation before choosing the communities’ new top cop.
“The RCMP definitely listened to our and the Ucluelet First Nation’s feedback. It was definitely a team effort,” she said.
She hopes to see Mancini follow in the footsteps of Ucluelet’s past detachment commander, Sgt. Jeff Swann, by “getting into the community, working with the youth and the teens, getting known out there and being a great participant.”
The outcry over Swann’s forced departure, an RCMP decision that was fought by both the community and Swann himself, was the impetus for Ucluelet’s participation in the hiring process.
The local detachment carries a limited duration posting tag that limits each officer’s tenure to a maximum of three years and St. Jacques said she, and her council, will continue lobbying for that limit to be dropped.
“That’s something that’s a constant for us and we bring it up every time we meet with [the RCMP], so they’re well aware,” she said.
“It’s getting to the point where things have changed and they are looking at these limited duration posting areas…We’re definitely still going to keep on with that.”
She said removing the limited duration posting policy would boost continuity and stability at the detachment as officers would not arrive knowing they would be leaving three years later.
“Having said that, I do see the points that the RCMP have put forward in regards to small communities,” she said noting the RCMP has argued that allowing officers to stay longer could stunt or decrease their policing skills and lead to them being too familiar, and thus too lenient, with locals.
“There can be some downsides to the police being too friendly and too much in the community,” she said.
“I don’t think that’s our case at all, but I can see their perspective on that.”
She said Mancini plans to sell his house in Barriere before moving to Ucluelet, but she hopes he arrives before summer’s season kicks in.