ENFIELD: The new Staff Sgt. with East Hants RCMP knows he’s coming in at a time when the detachment’s members are still mourning one of their own, while the force comes under the intense microscope of Canadians for their actions or inactions.

Cory Bushell started at the Enfield RCMP in August, replacing S/Sgt. Steve Ettinger who retired.

Since that time the 23-year veteran, who has called Enfield home with his wife and two kids for the past 15 years, has had to step into the role of an inspirational and motivator for the members at his detachment. They’ve had to deal with the line of duty death of Const. Heidi Stevenson and a line of duty injury to Const. Chad Morrison during the worst modern-day mass shooting in Canadian history.

But he has also come in when the force has been in the spotlight the most its ever been in recent memory.

Bushell said he understands the scrutiny that members with the RCMP are receiving and tries to relay that to the members where he works.

“I try to remind our members that by the nature of our work, the heat and the light is always going to be on the police, no matter what,” said Bushell. “We are the only group that has the power and authority to seize, to arrest, to search, with the level that we do. We’ll always be under the microscope; we’ll always be scrutinized.

“I try to encourage our members to not take it personally when people don’t understand. People are hurting right now and want to find an outlet to vent their anger at, and it’s easy to point fingers at police because we do attract so much attention.”

He began his career as an RCMP officer in Bridgewater, before moving to Iqaluit then on to Pangnirtung on Baffin Island. From there it was to Digby for a couple of years, before a transfer to Enfield where he was promoted as a supervisor, before transferring into staffing at RCMP HQ in Halifax.

East Hants RCMP S/Sgt. Cory Bushell began his role at the detachment two months ago. He is a 23-year veteran of the force and calls Enfield home with his family. (Healey photo)

From there he was transferred out as Commander of the Ports Enforcement Team, which has an Integrated unit with HRP and CBSA investigating criminality at N.S. ports.

He transferred then back into staffing as the one in charge, before moving to Windsor as District Commander, before coming back to Enfield.

In Windsor, he became part of a group that is promoting and supporting equality in the community, specifically those around Blacks and Indigenous.

“As a result of the Black Lives Matter campaigns and demonstrations we’ve seen around North America and the province, and in particular Windsor there has been an outcry to support all people, but in this case the Black people,” he said. “In N.S., we have many communities that were formed when Black Loyalists came here, and Windsor is one of them.

“The group is an eclectic group made up of community people, politicians, police officers, like myself, and advocates who are working hard to bring awareness to concerns and to encourage equality and diversity in all aspects of life. That community group is in West Hants, but I’m still part of it because I think it’s something that we can take wherever we go.”

Bushell said it was a pleasure to get the chance to come back to Enfield. He realizes he was coming in at a challenging time when members had heavy hearts.

“I was honoured to come back when people were grieving, to be part of that support, to be someone members can lean on,” said Bushell. “What I was able to bring here was a little stability, somebody who has had experience in this role and could be their rock when they needed it.

“The officers here are doing a wonderful job looking after each other. I was just able to come an be part of it. They are getting back to grassroots policing, which is the fun kind of work we do, being out in the community. Basically, bringing normalcy back to what we do every day because in the end the community does not change, and the needs of the community don’t go away.”

He said he hopes to inspire those he is working with to enjoy their work, create a working environment that is positive.

“I want this to be the most sought-after unit in Nova Scotia for members,” he said. “I want the people of East Hants to smile with pride when they see their Mounties drive by.”

S/Sgt. Cory Bushell is working at making the workplace one people want to be in and an institution the people of East Hants take great pride in. (Healey photo)

Bushell spoke about his first couple of months in the position in Enfield.

“I have been working on building on the processes in place and building on the policing in East Hants, enhance our office,” he said. “I have been working day by day to make this a workplace people want to be in and an institution the people of East Hants take great pride in and feel we’re doing our job which is creating a safe community for them to live in.”

He had a message for residents about the job they do and how they can be supportive.

“The best way for East Hants residents to support their police is to remember that we are a reflection of you,” said Bushell. “The things you find intolerable we need your voice to join ours. If you see harm, if you see a misdeed, I’m asking people to not turn a blind eye to those but speak up and not tolerate that.

“I’m not asking anyone to be the police or do enforcement, but share your message with your friends and family that you want this to be a safe place to live, a place of respect and dignity for all.

“I want people to remember the phrase “The injustices that you walk by are the injustices you accept.” We don’t want people to walk by injustices, we want them to report them.”