Sgt. Jeff Swann is using the community building approach he brought to Ucluelet’s RCMP detachment to create stronger communities within Vancouver Island’s detachments.
Ucluelet’s former police chief is settling into a new position that has taken him off the beat and into the RCMP’s new Workplace Advisory Program.
The program is designed to ensure and maintain positive vibes within detachments by ensuring and maintaining positive relationships between police officers, detachment staff and management.
RCMP staffers voted Swann in as one of two new Workplace Advisors on Vancouver Island in an election held in April and he began his new position on May 9.
He is stationed in Comox but travels to various detachments to help build and mend bridges between members and management.
“I travel to wherever I’m needed and that’s been basically everywhere on the Island,” he said. “Wherever the job needs me to be, I’m flexible and able to travel there.”
He added the position is a valuable one and commended the RCMP for creating it.
“When a scary situation happens, it’s instinctual for police officers to think, ‘This has just happened, now what’s going to happen to me?’...Members need to know what rights and protections they have and I’m there to guide them through that,” he said.
“There’s been some very scary incidents where police officers on Vancouver Island have been involved in dangerous situations and they’ve reached out to myself, or my partner out of Victoria, and it’s been a really engaging process.”
He suggested the program would improve local policing by improving relations within detachments.
“Whether it’s a conflict with a supervisor or an incident that’s happened, I’m there to guide them through that and to make sure they’re looking out for there best interests, the public’s interest and the organization’s interests,” he said.
“I’m trying to protect all three of those spheres of influence at once.”
He added the job has been busier than he thought it would be but he has enjoyed developing and learning from the challenges it’s put forward.
“It’s a little bit more challenging and busier than I thought it would be, but I’m drawing on my experiences as a detachment commander in Ucluelet where you’re looking out for the police officer’s on the street to make sure they’re protected, who are also protecting the citizens of Ucluelet and, at the same time, you’re looking out for the organizational interests,” he said.
“It’s basically exactly what I was doing as a detachment commander, just on a much broader scale.”
He said the job also entails a thorough understanding of RCMP policies.
“There’s a lot more homework involved. A lot more reading up to make sure that I am completely fluent when policy changes or when there’s updates to any kind of guidelines I’ve got to be top notch on that,” he said.
He added he has “absolutely loved” the 20 years he’s spent with the RCMP and has drawn from the experiences he’s earned to be effective in his new position.
“I’ve been treated very respectfully but there are those that haven’t been and, as a member workplace advisor, I want to work with those people to make sure that the value is there for each and every employee,” he said.
He suggested improving morale would boost the RCMP’s effectiveness.
“If you’re working with an individual member and making them happier and more effective, and you’re looking out for their rights and interests well then you’re looking out for the public’s interests...If we’ve got police officers that are feeling happier, engaged and respected in their own workplaces, then that’s going to be visible on the front lines.” he said.
“In the end everybody benefits from having happy employees. We’re paid for by the taxpayers, so we’re accountable to them and we want to make sure that everybody’s putting their right foot forward and working towards a united front of safe communities and safe homes.”