Jeff Herald has stepped in as the new Elk Valley RCMP Branch Commander. (Phil McLachlan/The Free Press)

Local returns as Elk Valley RCMP Branch Commander

Jeff Herald has returned to his hometown as Branch Commander for the Elk Valley RCMP department

Jeff Herald has returned home after 20 years away, and will now serve as Detachment Commander for the Elk Valley Regional RCMP.

Herald graduated from Fernie Secondary School in 1991, and subsequently worked in Cranbrook for a few years while living in Fernie.

After that he spent a few years going to school in Victoria, and joined the RCMP. His first days of training came in January of 1997 in Regina, Saskatchewan.

“It was so cold, I couldn’t even imagine, I almost turned around and came back,” said Herald.

However he stuck with it, and ended up staying in the Prairies for 20 years, after he graduated from the RCMP Depot Division in Regina, SK.

Saskatchewan is broken up into three districts; North, Central and South. When he recently applied for the transfer back to B.C., Herald was in charge of the Central district. With 18 detachments in Saskatchewan, six of those were under his supervision. His duties included overseeing his six detachments, performing reviews, making sure everything was being run properly in administration, and overseeing quality assurance with investigations. Any large files would be passed through Herald and upper management before he would distribute them appropriately.

Most of his work in the past 20 years has been administrative. He has been a detachment commander four times before this. All of the postings in Saskatchewan were amalgamated units similar to the Elk Valley Detachment.

“Realistically, half my life was in Saskatchewan,” said Herald. “But, I never considered Saskatchewan my home. This (Elk Valley) was home.”

Herald never envisioned he would ever come back to the valley, however he knew he wanted to eventually come back to B.C.

After biding his time and waiting for something to come up, Herald lept at the opportunity to work in his hometown when the opportunity presented itself. One morning, Herald received an email with a job opening in the Elk Valley Detachment.

“In the policing world, if you’re not from the Elk Valley, you probably aren’t even going to know what the Elk Valley detachment is. When I got the message, I knew exactly what it was, and jumped at it,” he said.

Herald has only been back in the valley for just over a week, but already notices many changes since the last time he was in the area. More specifically, he notices many differences in how each detachment operates. Herald noted that the mechanics of Saskatchewan (F Division) and B.C. (E Division) are very different.

“The saving grace has been, I can look out the window and I’m home,” said Herald, commenting on how he knew the job would take some getting used to.

Comparing his new job to his previous one, Herald admits there are challenges to both. In Saskatchewan, more people equals more crime. In the Elk Valley, a large challenge for members is the distance they have to travel. Covering an area from Koocanusa up to the north end of the Elk Valley is no small feat.

Herald believes his familiarity with the area will give him an advantage and a headstart in his new position.

“I grew up here, I think I know what the challenges are and what the needs are,” said Herald.

So far, things are flowing smoothly in his new detachment. His first impression is that the members are a good group of people, and he’s looking forward to working with them.

Herald spoke to the partial absence of police presence on the streets when he was young.

“I know that visibility was a concern when I was growing up,” he said. “You could drive around for a long time and not get stopped by a member.

“I’m certainly well aware of that, and that’s going to be a focus of ours for sure.”

In the Elk Valley detachment, there is one detachment commander, a staff sergeant, a sergeant, three corporals (one vacant) and thirteen constables. In addition, there are four Detachment Service Assistants (DSA’s).

Lorne Craig was the last Detachment Commander for the Elk Valley RCMP, and since he left, Will Thien has been in the position. As of now, Thien will be stepping back into his regularly assigned role of Operations NCO.

In the past 20 years, Herald has accepted 10 job offers, and admits he has moved around a lot. However, he believes his new position in the Elk Valley is a more permanent one.

“I’m certainly planning on sticking around here for a long time,” he said. “I’m home, I have no desire to go anywhere else.”

Asked what the most challenging part of life in the RCMP has been, Herald said “Every day is different. There’s no two days in policing that are the same. You never know, when you get up in the morning, what you’ll be faced with that day.

“It could be the most boring day you had, or it could be complete chaos.”

Asked what the most rewarding part is, Herald admitted he never gets bored.

“Every time that radio goes off, who knows what it’s going to be,” he said.