THE RCMP auxiliary officer program has changed in the last 20 years but one thing that hasn’t changed is that there’s always something to do.
That comes from Debbie Simons, who has been an auxiliary officer for two decades and was honoured for that commitment with a 20-year pin at an appreciation dinner Oct. 14.
The new auxiliary cadets got their badges, certificates, and were welcomed into the group, too.
Their addition brings the total auxiliaries to eight, says Simons.
From the start, she intended to be in the position for a while.
“Yeah I always thought I would stay in the program until I knew it was time to leave. There’s lots of initiatives going on here. There’s always something to do,” she said. “The program has changed a lot since I started.”
When she began, auxiliaries carried handguns but that was stopped in about 1989.
“There were 28 members when they took the guns away. Everyone quit and I was the only one who stayed,” she said. “It was indeed an issue. It was a comfort level too,” she added about the reaction to guns being taken away from auxiliaries.
The program was in limbo for a couple of years until she was asked to start it up again, she said.
Her biggest highlight came last year when she was director of security for the BC Winter Games here.
“I thoroughly enjoyed last year,” she said. “I worked with a great group of people and not every director of security is employed by the RCMP but it certainly made the job easier.”
Auxiliaries were providing security at the teen swims, for the arena before it got its own security staff and served as security at crime scenes, said Simons.
“You can’t say you’ve done it all because you don’t know what comes up next,” she said. “Something with policing, it’s different every day.”
“I know a lot of people in the community so it’s very positive when I would go out and we’d just be doing patrols and we know the people we’re dealing with and they appreciate us too.”
Years ago, auxiliaries were lawyers, doctors and psychologists and were interested in the program for the same reasons, she added.
“It’s a very good program and it takes the onus off the members too. Their jobs are so busy doing everyday policing so to do a bike rodeo on their day off is not appealing to everybody,” she said about how regular officers don’t have to do the bike rodeo on their days off as auxiliaries will cover it for them.
And Simons hasn’t chased down any criminals recently but certainly did in the past.
“We’ve got a couple of auxiliaries, one who is a runner and when that’s required of her, she’s out of the car and she’s racing,” said Simons.
The physical part of training is very important as you never know when it’s going to be required for you to be in top shape, she said.
“It’s important to stay fit. You put yourself in an awkward position if you can’t be of assistance,” she said. “It’s been a very, very positive experience and I’ve always enjoyed it.”