West Shore RCMP commander Staff Sgt. Larry Chomyn believes great policing starts with community.
“The police are always seen as some of the leaders in a community, and really our role is to serve the community,” Chomyn said.
A police department should be guided by the public’s wishes and what they see as their priorities, he added.
With 20 years’ experience in places such as Campbell River, 100 Mile House, Duncan and Ladysmith, Chomyn is accustomed to medium-sized detachments. But taking the reigns of five municipalities and two First Nations reserves, as he did about a month ago, presents a new challenge, he said.
As Chomyn understands, the trick is to maintain a visible police presence throughout the West Shore, while working with limited resources.
As he settles into his position, he is taking a hard look at how to achieve that.
“My job is to provide a fair and efficient service to all of those communities that we serve,” he said. “We can’t ignore one area to just focus on the other.”
After growing up in Winnipeg and building a career as a teacher, first in northern Manitoba and eventually in the indigenous community of Lax Kw’alaams near Prince Rupert, Chomyn decided to join the force.
Since then he has worked in nearly every aspect of the RCMP, from plainclothes duty and uniformed work to planning and organizational positions.
As West Shore detachment commander, Chomyn has been a busy man, getting organized, learning the ropes and meeting with community notables such as mayors and First Nations leaders. His intention is to help people put a face to the name and to hear from those in the know in areas they believe need the most attention.
So far, Chomyn has heard mostly good things about his new home.
“The satisfaction level is very high here. I think we’ve got a very strong detachment – very good members and supervisors – and I’m quite pleased and impressed with the work that they’re doing here,” he said.
That doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement, and Chomyn already has ideas for making some changes at the detachment. He’s a fan of objectives and measuring achievements and is looking at ways to be better at figuring out how the detachment is performing.
An efficiency review is in the works to make sure members are being used as best they can. The process is expected to take at least two months and will look at how the department handles its large workload, while asking staff for suggestions for change.
Chomyn’s family, including his wife and two teenage children, aged 17 and 15, are still living in Duncan while dad commutes to work every day. They are looking at homes in the West Shore, however, and look forward to becoming full time members of the community.
When not on the job or taking time off to travel (his last trip was to Greece and Turkey), Chomyn enjoys running, backpacking and cycling, so the West Shore has a lot to offer.
“We’ve always liked the area,” he said. “Before I was here we’d always come down and spend our free time in the general area. It’s great. It’s where we want to be.”