Manitoba’s new RCMP commanding officer a big believer in community engagement

Recently appointed commanding officer of the RCMP “D” Division in Manitoba Scott Kolody says that he thinks it’s important for the more than 1,000 officers serving the province to not just reside in the communities they serve but to embrace the opportunity to become part of their communities’ fabric.

“It’s just not responding to crime scenes but it’s all about the interaction and engaging with our partners and the citizens of our communities,” Kolody told the Nickel Belt News when he replaced former commanding officer Kevin Brousseau in late June. “I really want to ensure that that message gets out. Our officers, they come from varied backgrounds throughout the country and then they arrive here in Manitoba in our communities and it’s really important for them to get engaged in the community so they’re visible and they’re well known. I think that’s how the whole trust starts developing.”

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Kolody grew up in Windsor, Ontario and then spent more than two decades with the RCMP in Alberta before coming to Manitoba in 2004 so he knows what it’s like to start a new life in new surroundings.

“I came from Alberta after spending just over 20 years in Alberta in “K” Division in various areas up in the north and the Grande Prairie region and then down in the south part of the province, primarily in drugs and the proceeds of crime world, organized crime and then in 2004 I came out here and I headed up the Integrated Proceed of Crime Unit. I’ve been very fortunate and we’ve made it our home now,” Kolody said. “My wife is here and our three children are all here and they’re Manitobans now and very proud of that because when I arrived here we didn’t know anyone so Manitoba has really embraced us.”

Kolody has held several roles since arriving in the province, including officer in charge of contracts and aboriginal policing, district commander for eastern Manitoba and was the officer in charge of criminal operations since 2012. He says one of the challenges in Manitoba is the vast difference in geography that RCMP officers face depending upon where they’re stationed in the province.

“We have our larger municipal communities that we police but we also have a lot of isolated remote communities, we have our indigenous communities, First Nations communities and then right down  to our rural and farming areas, those down in the south along the border,” Kolody says. “You have all the communities that are around the perimeter, around the city of Winnipeg, so quite varied and widespread geographically so members sure get a wide breadth of experience when they come into this province. They have to really be culturally sensitive and be aware of traditions and cultures and really be in tune with  that.”

And while there are challenges involved with postings in remote communities, the commanding officer says there are rewards as well.

“You talk to our officers who have experienced some of our northern remote communities, they really enjoy it and we want to continue to showcase that and really encourage our younger members to experience that and get out there,” Kolody says. “Sometimes that can be a challenge when you don’t have all the services and amenities that maybe a big city can offer but I think that the beauty and the way of life in some of those communities that are a little bit more difficult to get to really present a lot of opportunities and experiences for our officers down the road and we want to encourage that even more so.”

Kolody says he wanted to be an RCMP officer since he was a child and that attending the RCMP Musical Ride in Windsor with his father played a critical role in him following that dream.

“I think that’s when i got hooked,” he says. “I was just always very impressed with the RCMP, the uniform, and as I got older I learnt more about their roles and responsibilities. I guess the romance of it all really resonated with me and I was fortunate enough to get accepted and go. It’s been an amazing career. I never looked back and I’m very excited in this role now to work with our communities and really see if we can make this a better place for Manitobans, improve on our policing service during my time in here and I’m very receptive to how we can improve our service in the next few years. It’s very humbling to have received this role and I’m very proud of the organization but now I sure feel that I have to repay and really absorbing the accountability that I have for the citizens of Manitoba and really telling them who I am but also listening to them as well.”

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