Princeton’s top cop is being “Chased” out of town.
RCMP detachment commander Sergeant Barry Kennedy takes a new posting in Chase, B.C. at the beginning of February.
“In Princeton it’s a limited posting. It’s four years and then they want you to move,” said Kennedy.
“We found Princeton a fantastic community to live in and made a lot of friends here…We weren’t looking forward to leaving and would have actually like to have stayed,” he told The Spotlight in an interview.
Kennedy joined the RCMP in 1989 in his hometown of Ottawa.
His first choice of career was NHL goalie and in various leagues his teammates included Steve Yzerman, Jeff Chychurn and Jeff Brown.
Out of high school Kennedy took a job with Pepsi as a delivery person and that’s what convinced him to go into policing.
“I decided that working for Pepsi was very hard work. I didn’t want to do that my whole life. Those drinks were heavy,”
After taking a summer position with the Ontario Provincial Police Kennedy studyied criminology at Carleton University.
“I always wanted to be a cop. I was nosy and I wanted to know what was going on. So the police was a good way to find out what was happening and I would get to go to it and see it and it was exciting every day.”
Kennedy was assigned to general duty in North Vancouver for several years, and then did a two year stint in a plain clothes unit.
“That section was a lot of fun.”
He also took a turn as a school liaison officer.
“It was surprisingly rewarding. I did like that position and saw a lot of value in it,” he said.
Kennedy spent two years travelling the world with the RCMP Musical Ride, which he described as “the best job in the service.”
He has also been stationed in Vernon, Golden and McBride.
“The job really doesn’t change. It’s the people that you work with and interact with and meet in your community – that’s your difference maker,” he said.
“This town doesn’t have any different crime than any other town. Every place has its problem areas and its problem people and its economic struggle…If you are going to leave here and think you are going to leave all that behind it’s not going to happen.”
Staffing was one of the most significant challenges Kennedy faced in Princeton.
While the detachment is currently up to its full compliment of seven members “we went with two or three members working for almost nine months between 2016 and 2017.”
The vacancies were created mostly by medical leaves that were out of service’s control. “At some points we were down to two. We would have a guy working days and a guy working nights. If we didn’t have someone come in from another detachment you were always on call.”
The situation was not helped by the large geographic area the Princeton detachment serves.
“Sometimes you would have one person working and a whole massive area and they could be at a car accident at Sunday Summit but for the rest of the town calls were still coming in and that person working was still responsible for them. It was a tremendous workload they carried.”
Kennedy worried about burn out affecting the existing members. “They worked really hard. Happily that situation has corrected itself.”
Kennedy has also served two years as president of the Princeton Minor Hockey Association and is formerly a referee used by Kootenay International Junior Hockey League for Princeton Posse games.
He has a long history of referring hockey and is certified to work national championship games and Olympic exhibition games.
“Wherever I go hockey is always my link to a community. A lot of my friends are hockey related and continue to be. When I come to a town that’s my hobby and that’s what I do,” he said.
Princeton has been a rewarding assignment for the veteran officer. “Everyone here has really bought into this sense of community. They all want the same as we do in as far as they want a safe community.”
Phone calls and tips have helped reduce crime and made policing easier, he said.
“In the last four years crime rates have fallen and we are catching bad guys and putting them in jail and that’s not only because we are bunch of super cops here…We are acting on what people are telling us and I hope it continues here because it works.”
Corporal Chad Parsons will take over as acting commander until a permanent decision on the position is made.