Often scrutinized by the public, RCMP offers got some positive attention from within their own organization on Nov. 7 as 23 awards were presented to officers and employees from the North Cowichan/Duncan detachment.
“There is really some amazing work being done here in the Cowichan Valley and unfortunately, more often than not, it is the allegations of neglectful investigations that come across my desk,” explained detachment boss, Insp. Chris Bear.
He said it was great to see positive feedback from the RCMP’s senior management teams in Victoria and Vancouver.
“This is an unusually high number [of awards] for a detachment of our size and is a testament to the hard work being done every day and the dedication to our community,” Bear continued. “As the officer in charge of North Cowichan/Duncan detachment of the RCMP, I would like to congratulate these officers and employees on receiving these awards, and thank them for the continued professional service they provide to our community.”
The awards were presented by Deputy Commissioner Brenda Butterworth-Carr (commanding officer of the RCMP in B.C.), and Chief Superintendent Sean Sullivan (district officer of Vancouver Island).
Bear noted that some recipients had family ties. Among the honourees was the married duo of Cpl. K. Pharis and Const. S. Pharis.
Const. S. Pharis was presented an award for helping with the rescue of occupants of a plane that crashed near Duncan in January of 2017 while Cpl. K. Pharis was honoured for rescuing a man from drowning near Cowichan Bay in November of 2017. Also awarded for their efforts in the near-drowning incident were: Const. Hill, Const. Granneman, Const. Speidel and Const. Houlgate.
R/Const. MacNeill was awarded a Bravery Commendation, along with Const. Platt for entering and search a burning building looking for a suicidal youth in Duncan in December of 2016. MacNeill’s daughter, Const. C. MacNeill received an award the next day in Nanaimo, for also entering a burning building to help rescue its occupants.
“Apparently dedication to the communities we police can run in the family,” Bear said.
Two officers were honoured twice: Const. Houlgate and Const. Banfield.
Houlgate helped with the near drowning in Cowichan Bay and also was instrumental in disarming a suicidal youth, along with Const. Grey and Const. Baines in July of 2017.
Banfield joined Const. Kongus in being awarded for their determination in locating a missing woman that turned out to be in urgent need of medical assistance on Nov. 4, 2017 and then joined four other officers (Cpl. Merrick, Const. Lansdowne, Const. Kowalewich, Const. Peters) in earning a Bravery Commendation for rescuing occupants from a vehicle hanging over the Cowichan River in December of 2017.
Also receiving awards were Const. Charette-Thibault, who verbally disarmed a man with a knife who had severely injured himself in October of 2017 and Const. Bozak, who forced his way into a barricaded residence in order to rescue a suicidal male that was possibly armed in December of 2017.
Civilian Victim Services employee David Sheftel was presented an award for his assistance to the City of Oak Bay on Christmas Day, 2017, when two young girls were murdered.
“While there isn’t any one award that is better than the other, it makes me proud to work with the calibre of employees who are truly making a difference,” Bear said. “It is great to see that our community’s RCMP officers and employees are being recognized for their hard work.”