Just after saying goodbye to Wayne Maughan, the Prince Rupert RCMP are welcoming a new officer in charge.
After serving slightly more than two years as the local detachment commander, Staff Sgt. Blake Ward officially left his post on June 30 at 100 Mile House to accept a new posting in Prince Rupert – and a prestigious promotion to Inspector. Ward is expected to arrive in early August.
Ward’s new role as Inspector is a highly significant position within the RCMP ranks, and distinguishes him as one of a limited number of commissioned officers across the country.
He says leaving the detachment and the South Cariboo is a life change that comes with “mixed emotions” for both him and his wife, Jacqui.
“I’m excited about the challenges and where I’m going with my career … but we love 100 Mile, we love the area … We want to retire here,” he said.
Their son, Jaidan, who is now a paramedic (like Jacqui), will stay on and work in the South Cariboo, so he will live in their house, Blake explains.
He adds one of his biggest senses of gratification comes from the successfully improved relationships between the detachment members and the community.
The soon-to-be-commissioned officer says he has always believed fostering these relationships is important at every RCMP detachment, but they can wane over the years, and need rekindling.
“I feel that that’s something that I brought to the detachment – that I’d need to get the members out with the community more, and being more visible and more approachable.
“It’s something I’ve really pushed on the staff here and they’ve grabbed ahold of it. I see more of [them] getting involved in different activities in the community, and that’s what I wanted to see.”
This was challenging at times, and it took some leadership, understanding and readjusted priorities to successfully implement under the “huge” load of paperwork and regular, time-essential reporting that must be done, he explained.
Ward says seeing this successfully come about, and hearing the favourable feedback it has garnered from the community is one of his “biggest points of happiness.”
Ward adds the local members’ camaraderie and willingness to pitch in whenever any work is needed has been a key part of why he enjoyed working here.
Most detachment commanders are non-commissioned officers, so it is a big step for him to be commissioned as RCMP inspector, he notes.
It will mean adjusting to changes in his role, function and work rules within the RCMP, Ward says, adding his accountability to the RCMP will also be “that much greater” as a commissioned officer.
“I’m definitely looking forward to it. I’m hopeful that, for me, it brings around a positive change in the communities – Prince Rupert now, and whatever communities down the road….”
While he had hoped for career advancement, this promotion came several years sooner than he had anticipated, he adds.
Ward explains his former second in command, longtime member Sgt. Don McLean, is now temporarily in charge of the 100 Mile House detachment until a new commander is assigned.
The Prince Rupert detachment is much larger, with 36 members plus support staff serving the Northern coastal community of about 15,000 people, he notes.
“I know what the community is like, but I had never policed [there], I worked in marine sections.”
Along with his previous postings in Merritt and Haida Gwaii, Blake served for 12 years in the RCMP Marine Section, based in Prince Rupert, but patrolling the entire North Coast.
The up-and-coming RCMP leader was promoted to staff sergeant and joined 100 Mile House as detachment commander in February 2014.
Ward says since then, being involved with the Wranglers hockey team (that his sons, Brady and Jaidan, have both played on) was special, but what he really came to enjoy was the social aspect.
“Just going to the store, it takes you an hour to get a loaf of bread because people talk to you. That’s what I enjoy about a community and what makes you feel like you’re in a good place,” he said.