Sgt. Ken Brissard, who spoke to the Chronicle five days after arriving in town to take over command of the Ladysmith RCMP detachment on an ‘interim’ basis, comes from a long line of RCMP members – and the 25 year veteran was first in that line.
His oldest daughter is a member serving on the West Shore. Her husband joined the force and is posted to the Island District headquarters. His second daughter is a dispatcher on Vancouver Island. His third daughter’s husband is ‘in depot,’ about to complete his training and report to a detachment in Alberta.
Brissard didn’t lay claim to title of the RCMP’s most effective recruitment officer, but it doesn’t take long to come to the conclusion he’s a man who loves his job and has a clear grasp of what the RCMP motto – Maintain the Right – means.
Adopted in 1873, the motto is “embedded in the crest of the RCMP,” he said. Law enforcement is a complex job, that has to deal with just about every shade of grey, but the touchstone is “a very simple statement” about the need for RCMP officers to make communities safe and secure – places where people have a “right to live by our democratic values.”
In Brissard’s perspective, that mandate harkens right back to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. “There is no way I could put on this uniform and sit in this chair if I didn’t believe in the Charter of Rights,” he said.
When it comes down to investigating crime, the RCMP is one arm of a larger process, which sometimes appears grindingly slow to the public, but which has to be meticulous to ensure everyone’s rights are protected.
“Our role is to gather the evidence and give it to the prosecution services in B.C.,” he said.
There’s another aspect to enforcing the law that’s important to Brissard: communication.
“That’s our message when we talk to people and we talk to community groups,” he said. “Phone us. Just phone us. Don’t discount your spider sense.”
Brissard also thinks it’s important to communicate with people – especially youth – who are getting themselves into trouble. That can include anything from a conversation on the street, to restorative justice for someone who has already committed a crime.
For some offenders, “It’s very powerful when I sit across from you and hear about how your life was affected,” he said of restorative justice sessions.
Brissard said he should know in two or three months if his ‘interim’ designation will be changed to permanent.