A new uniform is being broken in at the Hay River RCMP detachment.
Jordan Groenewegen is completing his first week of duty at the detachment after six months of training at the RCMP Depot in Regina.
His position of community constable means that, while he is a functioning member of the RCMP, his focus leans more toward creating positive community relations.
“The idea is to form a bridge between the RCMP and the community,” said Groenewegen, adding that his position is usually the one chosen to go into schools or make presentations.
“Also when a new member comes in, a community constable is there to help introduce that member to the rest of the community,” he explained. “Usually a community constable is someone who is permanently living here. So they would have a good knowledge of the community.”
Previously an electrician, Groenewegen had been sworn in five years ago as a volunteer auxiliary member of the RCMP.
“I got a text one day from a friend about the community constable program and decided to go for it,” said Groenewegen.
In March 2014, he wrote his entrance exam for the RCMP training program and the long process had begun.
Like other RCMP members, Groenewegen travelled to Regina in September to complete the six-month training program required to serve in the force.
“It’s the same training for my position as for a regular member,” said Groenewegen. “We learn defensive driving, shooting, defensive tactics. The only difference is that I am not trained in police science so I can’t lead a file.”
Groenewegen said having the training has boosted his confidence both on and off the job.
“It’s not like I’m a different person now but in training they try to take your weaknesses and help build on your strengths,” he said.
While Groenewegen said the uniform takes some getting used to, the field work is even more of a challenge. Having made an arrest within his first three days on the job, he said being in real-time is new to him.
“At depot we were working with each other,” he said. “But out in the real world you can’t hit the pause button. Everything is a learning experience.”
Having been born and raised in Hay River, Groenewegen said he is not surprised to see the darker side of town.
“I always knew there was a side of Hay River we don’t see in daily life,” he said. “But with policing you have to deal with potentially wrestling with some of the people you know.”
Groenewegen’s mother, former Hay River South MLA Jane Groenewegen, was asked to speak at the depot graduation banquet earlier this month.
“He left six months ago, and he comes back in a uniform,” she said. “He has a different situation than most, in that he has to go back to where he was born and raised, where he already knows everyone.”
Groenewegen said he has been receiving positive feedback from the community regarding his new position, but he said he will have to find a fine balance in his career.
“It’s going to be a challenge to find the balance between trying to be friendly but also having to do my job,” he said.
Groenewegen hopes that in his career he will be able to make a connection with young people in the community.
“My hope is that I can help kids see the RCMP in a positive way,” he said. “I think there is a lot of respect for the RCMP in Hay River but it’s not like that everywhere. But we have to work at keeping that connection with the community.”