Wider Horizons

JustinIt was in my final year of high school in Prince George, B.C. that I made up my mind to attend Lethbridge College and, in 1976, I was admitted into the Law Enforcement [now Justice Studies] program.

During the next two years, I met some great people at the college, had some amazing instructors, and was given an education that would become the foundation for a very rewarding career in law enforcement.

In fact, my time spent at Lethbridge College was so interesting and fulfilling that I wanted to continue my education, but at that time there were not many Canadian universities granting degrees in law enforcement. Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, B.C. offered a bachelor in criminology, but would only give me six months credit towards a degree.

Since I had worked hard during my two years at Lethbridge College, I looked elsewhere and soon discovered that Washington State University, at Pullman would give me a full two years’ credit for my diploma. Consequently, I was the first student from the Law Enforcement program to carry on directly to a university. I graduated in 1980 with a BA in criminal justice.

From 1981 to 1986 I worked for the B.C. Attorney General’s Court Services division, and held various titles, including court clerk, administrator, deputy registrar and justice of the peace. As JP, I frequently held bail hearings and issued search warrants; often before making any decisions, I would think back to the information I had learned at Lethbridge College.

In 1986 I enrolled in the Canadian Forces as a direct entry officer and was commissioned into the Military Police Branch. After my initial training of nearly two years at Chilliwack, B.C., Borden, Ont., and St-Jean, Que., I was transferred as the second-in command at CFB Borden.

After only a short stay, in 1989 I was then moved to become the detachment operations officer for the Atlantic Detachment Special Investigation Unit, Halifax, responsible for the Atlantic provinces. I was looking forward to my first police job in “plain clothes” and learning from a very experienced boss, but due to his sudden retirement, I found myself appointed the detachment commander for eight months.

Once again, I found myself occasionally reflecting back, and more importantly, relying upon the information that I had been taught at Lethbridge College. I would even visualize the instructors teaching our class certain topics. That was scary.

From late 1990 to 1993, I was the military police detachment commander at CFB Kingston. A highlight was being part of the security team for the visit of the late Diana, Princess of Wales, to her own Regiment. In 1993 I was selected as a Canadian exchange officer and sent to the Royal Military Police Training Centre in Chichester, England as a member of the teaching staff. I spent two great years overseas and gave my family an opportunity to see England and many other parts of Europe.

In 1995, I returned to Canada and attended a one-year French course at the Canadian Forces Language School in Ottawa, then served at National Defence HQ as a counter-intelligence analyst.

In 1997, I became the executive officer to the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal (chief of police). I was seconded for three months to the Special Advisory Group on Military Justice and Military Police Investigation Services with the late Brian Dickson, former chief justice of the Supreme Court of Canada. This was an amazing group of professionals to work with because their recommendations were accepted by the government and were instrumental in amending significant legal and police sections of the National Defence Act that were nearly 50 years old.

In 1999, I was appointed as the commanding officer of 2 Military Police Platoon in Petawawa, Ont. Although this was more of a traditional army unit, the role was still to conduct police and security functions within the field force, whether deployed or back at home base. Later, in 2001 I served a six-month tour in Bosnia-Herzegovina as the commanding officer of the military police platoon and as the task force provost marshal. Upon returning from Bosnia, I was transferred to the National

Capital Region and was the detachment commander for three years.

From 2005 to 2007 I was seconded to the Department of Foreign Affairs as the commanding officer of the Military Security Guard Unit (now called the Military Police Security Services Unit). This unit is responsible for providing the federal government with military police men and women at various Canadian embassies around the world. I was back wearing a suit and tie again and spending many weeks travelling through foreign countries and meeting dignitaries.

Then in July 2007, I finally got back out west again and became the military police detachment commander at 4 Wing Cold Lake, home of the largest fighter base in Canada. From January to August 2009, I was deployed to Afghanistan with the Canadian Forces and was the officer commanding the international military police unit at Kandahar Air Field. As you could imagine, supervising police from seven nationalities who have limited police jurisdiction over 18,000 military and civilians from 42 nations comes with its own challenges. There were days when I tried to remember everything I ever learned at college and university and some when I wished my instructors were with me.

Nevertheless, this was another valuable and rewarding experience in my life which would have likely never happened had it not been for the education and encouragement I received in my early days at Lethbridge College. Although I now come closer to the end of my active law enforcement career, my pursuit of education continues, as I am completing a master’s degree in security and risk management from the University of Leicester, U.K. Perhaps someday I can give back to the law enforcement community by teaching at a college like Lethbridge and continue the cycle.

Wider Horizons
Lethbridge College
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