The RCMP auxiliary program in Williams Lake has more than doubled with the addition of six new auxiliary constables who joined the force in May.
On Thursday the new constables were formerly inducted at city hall. Three auxiliaries were recognized for five years service, and two others, who were absent, were acknowledged for 13 and 20 years of service.
“The auxiliary program has been around for 50 years,” said Const. Brad LeForte who has been in charge of the program in Williams Lake the last four years. “It was started to assist police in emergency situations.”
When the RCMP ran out of members the auxiliaries were called in to help, he explained.
“That tradition is still held today and we still depend on them greatly, however, it has been changed greatly over the last 50 years.”
Today auxiliaries are used more as a community asset, helping with everything from community policing, putting on bike rodeos, going to schools to deliver D.A.R.E. programs to doing ride-alongs with RCMP members.
The new recruits have been out volunteering about four months already and many said they love the ride-alongs.
“I really like the camaraderie with the regular RCMP members,” Michael Olson said.
“I grew up here and decided I wanted to help out and I’ll see if law enforcement is what I want to do.”
“It’s something I’ve wanted to do since I first moved to Williams Lake 13 and a half years ago,” said Corwyn Smid. “I’ve worked as a noon-hour supervisor at Cataline elementary school, I’ve been a youth pastor and coached hockey and soccer with three different teams because I have three boys.”
Gino D’Appolinia presently works at Gibraltar Mines and has been in Williams Lake steadily since 2010.
He joined the auxiliary program to help make a difference and to see what policing is all about.
“My plan is to become a regular member and hopefully one day I will,” he said.
William De Vuyst said it’s always been his passion to help people in his community.
“I’m with the Wildwood Fire Department,” he said, adding he tries to do anything he can to make the community stronger.
Auxiliaries don’t receive any pay and have to volunteer a minimum of 160 hours.
“The vast majority go well over that,” said Staff Sgt. Ken Brissard, who has accepted the position of watch commander for the Nanaimo RCMP and will be leaving Williams Lake.
Looking around Brissard said several of the RCMP members in the room, including himself, started as auxiliaries.
While auxiliaries are not expected to become regular members, their involvement shows they wish to make the community a better place, he added.
Mayor Kerry Cook praised the RCMP for their leadership and making the auxiliary program possible.
“Thanks for making a substantial difference in our community,” she told the new recruits. “It takes a special type of person to volunteer without any compensation.”