Saanich issues call for new class of reserves

Saanich Police recruiting 27 new reserve constables

Saanich Police Reserve Staff Sgt. Steve Smith

He’s not the Steve Smith behind Canadian caricature Red Green. He’s not the Steve Smith who interrupted what many believe would have been five straight Stanley Cup championships for the Edmonton Oilers when he scored an own-goal in the 1986 playoffs versus the Calgary Flames.

He’s Steve Smith, Reserve Staff Sgt. with the Saanich Police, and he’s been doing it for 19 years.

“I was living in Calgary at the time of the hockey goal and a lot of people were thanking me,” Smith said.

This summer the 54-year-old Colwood resident, who works in trades in Saanich, will be part of the interviewing process as Saanich Police is heavily recruiting for its reserve constable program. Saanich wants to add 27 reserve constables to bring its total numbers back up to the desired level of 55 reserves.

Last year 42 Saanich Police reserves performed a total of 8,051 hours of volunteer service in Saanich, said Sgt. Jason Bland,

“This equates to $331,810 of first-class constable salary,” Bland said. “It’s a significant impact, not just for Saanich taxpayers but also … we wouldn’t have the community connection we do without [reserves].”

While it’s not necessary for future police officers to spend time as a volunteer reserve, being a reserve opens a lot of doors towards a career around law enforcement, Smith said.

“I’ve seen reserves hired onto Saanich Police, RCMP and other departments, and I’ve also seen them go into careers related to law enforcement, corrections and civilian jobs,” Smith said.

In the last year four Saanich Reserves were hired by Saanich Police and three by the RCMP.

Bland started as a reserve in the same class with Smith 19 years ago.

“As a former reserve myself, I know firsthand the sense of pride, accomplishment and inclusion reserves get by serving alongside regular members,” he said.

Bland works in the Community Engagement Division where he also oversees the NCO Crime Prevention and Volunteer Services programs, but the reserve program is about to kick in full time this fall.

“I think one thing not everyone realizes is how much respect the regular (Saanich) police force has for our reserves, not just because we have former reserves in our ranks, but because of their role.”

Bland will accept 27 into the Saanich Police reserve constable program, who will study along side a handful of Oak Bay Police and Victoria Police reserves.

The deadline for applications is Sept. 11.

Accepted entrants will study a condensed syllabus based on the same curriculum taught at the police academy any officer would attend. It’s a five-month program running from Nov. 4 to March 19, every Wednesday from 7 to 9 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Upon graduation reserves must commit to a minimum of 160 hours per year.

“There is some flexibility to fit your schedule,” Smith said. “We understand people have jobs and other commitments in their lives.”

Reserves engage in regular Saanich Police work such as ride-alongs, and carry a heavy presence in all drinking and driving CounterAttack road checks and traffic control. They’re also regularly involved in Strawberry Festival, Canada Picnic on the Gorge, Music in the Park and other community events, as well as Elk-Beaver Lake marine patrol.

Saanich Police will be hosting two information sessions on the reserve constable program on Aug. 5 and 13, both starting at 8 p.m. at the Saanich Police Department, 760 Vernon Ave.

To apply or for more information visit the recruiting tab at saanichpolice.ca.

 

reporter@saanichnews.com

 

 

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