A recent change of leadership at the Ladysmith RCMP brought a new top cop to town earlier this summer.
Staff Sgt. Dave Herman — a former watch commander with the Nanaimo RCMP — has served as Ladysmith’s new detachment commander since July 31, he said.
Herman stepped in when Staff Sgt. Larry Chomyn left his post six weeks ago to assume command of the West Shore RCMP, a position that earned Chomyn a promotion to the rank of Inspector.
Ladysmith’s new commander in chief described his family as having longstanding ties to Vancouver Island and to Nanaimo before revealing how his childhood was defined in large part by the province’s timber industry.
“I grew up as a small boy entirely in logging camps on Vancouver Island and the Queen Charlotte Islands until I was 11 years old,” Herman explained. “And then we moved down to Port Alberni, where I did the bulk of my schooling.”
At the age of 16, Herman took on logging as a form of summer employment and it would remain his primary source of revenue as he worked his way through high school and university.
By the time he graduated from the University of Victoria with a bachelor of arts — “I majored in sociology and history,” Herman explained — he had eight years’ worth of logging experience under his belt. Rather than live the life of a full-time lumberman, though, Herman opted to join the Mounties instead.
Herman signed up with the RCMP in 1980 during an era when “the rule was that you don’t come back [from training] to serve in your home province,” he said.
That led Herman to spend the first six years of his policing career in Red Deer, Alta.
In 1986, Herman transferred to “a three-man post” in Fort Vermillion, a remote trapping community on the Slave River in north-central Alberta.
Two years later, Herman traded snares and pelts for boots and spurs when he moved to Pincher Creek, a farming and ranching hub in southwestern Alberta.
Herman spent the next five years patrolling Pincher Creek, “the cowboy town of cowboy towns,” before transferring to Calgary in 1993 to join the RCMP’s General Investigations Section (GIS).
Shortly after his arrival, Herman’s section morphed into a Major Crimes Unit responsible for homicide investigations throughout southern Alberta.
Solving murders would serve as Herman’s mainstay until 2000 when he accepted a position with the North Vancouver RCMP’s Serious Crime Unit, a predecessor of the RCMP’s Integrated Homicide Investigation Team.
In 2002, he returned to uniformed policing when he was promoted to a post in Port Hardy, a fishing and logging hub on northern Vancouver Island Herman described as “a northern version of Ladysmith.”
Herman left Port Hardy in 2006 to serve as a watch commander in Campbell River. He then returned to investigative work the following year when he joined Port Alberni’s GIS division, a detail that would see Herman focus on serious crime, drug enforcement and homicides from December 2007 through December 2010.
A watch commander’s position with the Nanaimo RCMP served as the next stop on Herman’s career path. Working two-day, two-night shifts for two and a half years, Herman was “in charge of all the operational members out on the road and a good portion of the investigative side,” he said.
Herman views his arrival in Ladysmith as a fortunate turn of events.
“I have always had an interest in being a detachment commander,” Herman explained, “and I have now been given an opportunity to do so.”
Under Herman’s command is a staff of 12 uniformed officers including two Corporal supervisors, one First Nations Policing Program officer and nine “general duty” officers.
Herman’s first impressions of the detachment’s public outreach programs are largely positive — “the detachment was left to me in pretty good shape,” he explained but he sees room for improvement.
“I definitely want to see the First Nations Policing Program expanded,” Herman added. “And I want to build on strengthening the relationships between the RCMP and the First Nations communities, in particular out on Penelakut.”