Ucluelet’s search for a new police chief looks like it’s wrapping up but local officials are keeping mum on the specifics.
“We are now in a cone of silence until the process has completed,” said Ucluelet Mayor Dianne St Jacques during last week’s municipal council meeting.
Ucluelet’s police detachment has been without a sergeant since the departure of Sgt. George Jenkins who held the position for roughly one month, but left after being injured in an assault by a local youth on Feb. 22.
Jenkins had taken the detachment’s helm after the RCMP’s Island District brass made the controversial decision to force Sg. Jeff Swann out of the position, despite pleas from the community, council and Swann himself, to let him extend his limited duration posting for two more years.
With a new sergeant needed, and the outcry over Swann’s departure still rattling, the RCMP agreed to adjust their hiring practices and allow input from local leaders.
Applicants for Ucluelet’s top cop position traveled to the community to be interviewed by a panel that included representatives from Ucluelet, the Ucluelet First Nation and the RCMP, according to St. Jacques.
“Apparently, this is one of the first times this has been done in Canada so the RCMP in Ottawa are monitoring our progress and seeing if it’s successful or not,” she said.
St. Jacques told the Westerly, “it was a very good process,” that she hopes to see implemented in other communities with limited-duration RCMP detachments.
“It’s a new process for them, but it’s great that they were willing to give it a try and hopefully other communities will get a chance to participate in the future,” she said.
She added it was important for local leaders to have a voice at the interview table.
“We wanted the opportunity to make sure that we get somebody that’s a good fit for our community,” she said adding Ucluelet’s RCMP has been a beacon of community leadership under Swann.
“We’ve been spoiled in the past, and we have a pretty high standard now, so we wanted to make sure our voices were heard in the choice that was made.”
There is no timeline for a new sergeant to arrive but St. Jacques expressed confidence that Ucluelet will not go through another summer without a police chief.