You might think there’s quite a void between working as a respiratory therapist and walking a beat with the police, but don’t tell that to Hilary Smith.
The auxiliary police constable at the Oceanside RCMP detachment does it all the time — as much as 300 hours per year — and there’s no doubt she loves it.
“Since I was younger I’ve been interested in both law enforcement and the medical profession,” she said. “Opportunity directed me towards the medical profession to take respiratory therapy and I went from there. When my brother joined the RCMP 12 years ago, we talked about it quite a bit and I was motivated to learn about it again.”
Coincidentally, an ad in the local paper was advertising for auxiliary police officers for the Oceanside detachment, so she quickly put her name in.
After taking a six-month course that covered everything from paperwork to self-defence, Smith began her volunteer career with the police.
That was seven years ago now and the mother of two has no intention of slowing down. She enjoys it too much.
“It’s always been one of my interests and I like the excitement around the job,” she said. “The people I work with are great and I love working with the community and giving back.”
Auxiliary constables are involved in ride-alongs with regular members and participate in community outreach work.
“For the most part we do a lot of community involvement and special events,” she said. “We help out with parades, and on July 1 we do patrols in the park and march in the parade. I trained in the bike squad as well. I’m the only auxiliary here presently trained. We get involved with grad parades, the Remembrance Day parade and Remembrance Day services. We’re also out in the schools. In 2011 and 2012 I helped Parksville Elementary develop the Top Cop reading program.”
That was the part Smith liked best.
“The kids just loved the program,” she said. “They had a great time and were so happy to see us when we went in every week. They were very inquisitive and curious and they really wanted to learn reading. “That was my favorite so far in the seven years.”
Smith conceded there have been times when she was concerned about her safety, but she said the regular members were always there to back her up.
“The worst was probably the near riot we had at one of the Canada Day events a few years ago,” she said. “It got to the point where people were starting to go crazy and throw things at us. It turned out Ok in the end though.”
With a minimum of 160 hours per year required to retain her certification, Smith conceded it’s a big commitment, but she said her family has been very supportive and the ability to set her own hours with the program has made that load lighter.
“I would advise people to research it before they commit to the program,” she said. “It is a lot of fun and I’ve had a great time throughout my seven years. I would recommend it to anyone interested in law enforcement and working in the community.”
Her message comes as the Oceanside detachment kicks off a drive to recruit more auxiliaries in a bid to increase their numbers from the current four to 10. Those interested in applying for the program are asked to attend a no commitment, one-hour information session this month as a first step in the recruitment process. To register Cst. Minshull, the Oceanside RCMP Auxiliary Constable Co-ordinator, at 250-954-2955.