Top cop considers Ladysmith ‘very safe’

Ladysmith Chamber of Commerce members recently had a question-and-answer session with RCMP Staff Sgt. Larry Chomyn.

Staff Sgt. Larry Chomyn

Staff Sgt. Larry Chomyn

Ladysmith Chamber of Commerce members had a chance to put a face to a name this month when they met with Ladysmith’s top cop.

Detachment Commander Staff Sgt. Larry Chomyn held a question-and-answer session with Chamber of Commerce members during their September general meeting.

Chomyn has been with the Ladysmith detachment since January 2012. He has been a police officer for 19 years, and before that, he was a public school teacher.

Chomyn told Chamber of Commerce members that he considers Ladysmith a “very safe” community.

While there are mischief crimes such as graffiti around town, Chomyn considers these more as nuisance problems.

“I’d have no problem letting my wife and daughters walk around in town,” he said.

When asked if policing is becoming more reactive than proactive and whether that has to do with staffing and budgets, Chomyn said it depends on the community.

“You call 9-1-1, we come and investigate — that’s very reactive,” he said. “In bigger units, they have plainclothes members who might be trying to target certain groups. Our first priority will always be loss of life. When staffing numbers go down, it becomes more reactive. Here in Ladysmith, we try to be proactive, such as our prolific offender program.”

Despite the best intentions, though, the nature of a call that comes in affects the officers’ role, explained Chomyn.

“We may want to do surveillance, but if we have only two people on shift, and a call comes in for domestic violence, we go to that,” he said.

Response time varies depending on prioritizing the calls.

The Ladysmith RCMP Detachment does not have 24-hour staffing at the police station.

“We are an on-call detachment,” explained Chomyn. “We will respond to calls 24/7, 365 days. But there are periods of time we don’t have a physical member at the detachment. We have two officers on officer-readiness at home, and they can respond right away from home. As well, Duncan members can respond right away if needed.”

The Ladysmith RCMP Detachment consists of 13 members, including one constable who is a designated First Nations policing constable.

A number of staffing transitions have been taking place, noted Chomyn.

“We’re equalizing out right now, but a number of members were transitioning to the detachment,” he said. “It’s always a numbers game, basically, with people coming and going. It’s difficult right now for me with people doing overtime and people coming and going, but we’re in that transition, and we’re getting there. I’ve put a lot of focus on hand-picking the people coming here.”

Chomyn told Ladysmith Chamber of Commerce members that the local detachment is working on four priorities this year — traffic and aggressive and impaired drivers, property crime reduction and prolific offenders, community presence and visibility, and First Nations policing.