MAIN PHOTO: Cpl. Tim Tong has enjoyed his time in East Hants as one of many backfill officers filling in for regular members stationed here who are off seeking treatment due to the April shootings. Healey photo)
ENFIELD: An RCMP officer from the nation’s capital—one of many brought in to backfill for officers with East Hants RCMP off on leave as a result of the mass shooting on April 18-19—is finding the community in central N.S. “amazing.”
Cpl. Tim Tong is among those officers in the fourth rotation that have been at the Enfield detachment for the past month. The officers are filling in for regular members stationed here that are off getting treatment for the events that transpired over that two-day span.
“It’s such an honour to be here to help our members, and to maintain service delivery to the East Hants residents,” said Cpl. Tong. “What I do now in Ottawa is completely different. I miss the direct connection to people the most.”
He said the people here are so welcoming.
“Every shift I have had, when I’m out in the community people are coming up to me thanking me for being here to serve the community,” he said.
In Ottawa, Cpl. Tong is an Operational Reviewer Analyst with the RCMP’s Protective Operations Assessment Unit (Canadian Executives and Foreign Missions). In summary, he’s the guy that gathers intelligence and prepares security assessments for federal Ministers like Melanie Joly and Minister Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister in Canada and abroad. He also performs the same task, making security recommendations to the level of RCMP protective services necessary to the ensure the safety of those Internationally Protected Persons (IPP) visiting Canada. These VIP may include President Donald Trump and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Cpl. Tong has worked at locations across Canada. He said one thing sets East Hants apart from other communities he has been stationed at.
“I’ve worked in B.C. I’ve worked in Alberta, and it’s not the same. It’s a huge difference,” said Cpl. Tong. “People in East Hants wave at me with all five fingers. It’s refreshing versus that particular one finger salute we’re used too.”
He understands that not all police interaction is positive for everyone in the communities they serve, but he hopes they are making a difference. Cpl. Tong said he enjoys contract policing.
“There will always be people not so happy with a decision,” he said. “It’s about how we take the time, discuss it, and have them understand the decision that was made.
Currently there is a local and national conversation happening around policing, and in Canada that discussion is centered squarely on the RCMP from coast-to-coast.
Cpl. Tong, who has been with the police service for 30 years, compared a police investigation—whether it’s a murder; robbery; theft or whatever—to a jigsaw puzzle.
“The bigger it is the more pieces there are to put together,” he said. “Our role is to gather the facts, the pieces as many as we can, and get the whole picture or pieces of it.
“We let the facts lead us to what happened. That’s why it takes time.”
Cpl. Tong said the vastness of East Hants is almost “incomprehensible” in how much area they must cover.
“How we have needed to travel from one location up to Mount Uniacke; Noel; or Maitland, the response time is incredible,” he said. “The nature of the call, a couple of them related to firearms, we had to get there but officer safety was paramount.”
He said there are only a handful members who are posted to Enfield that are on duty, with the remaining members off because of the tragic events.
“There is a cloud of sadness hovering at the detachment,” he said. “It’s tough on the members.
“We are able to bring in other members from other provinces and their positive energy to spread to boost, to bring up the moral, instead of having the shadow of what happened back in April remain.
“It’s a long road.”
Cpl. Tong said being an officer in areas like East Hants, members can build relationships and interact, whereas at larger centers that’s not possible as they’re going call to call to call with not much of a break.
“Here we have the luxury of time to take to connect with people,” he said. “I think that is how we excel in building that relationship. Here, it’s laid back.”
He said the members deployed in East Hants are doing their best to help the detachment the best they can. Some of the members on this rotation there are investigators with Protective Services; Governor General’s security detail; members from Interpol; National Investigation; detectives from Cornwall, Ont., all over Ontario with diverse experiences.
“We’re here to help,” he said. “I really hope we’re making a positive difference.”
People can come up and talk to officers, Cpl. Tong said.
“We are not the robo cop, we are not a machine,” he said. “We are just everyday people like you just doing a different job.”
Cpl. Tong was asked after being in Enfield for a month would he have wanted to transfer here, if it was 10 years ago? He smiled ear-to-ear as he answered.
“Drop of a dime, I would accept a transfer to be here,” he said. “What policework matters is the human connection. The foundation of what RCMP policing is about, it’s community policing.”