The Dryden Observer

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Interim police chief sworn in

Chris Marchand

Chris Marchand served as editor of the Dryden Observer from August 2009 to April 2018.
Dryden Police Service Interim Chief Derek West was sworn into office, Jan. 5.
Photo by Chris Marchand

By Chris Marchand

Dryden’s interim police chief Derek West is no stranger to northern policing.

Temporarily seconded from his role with the Thunder Bay Police Service, Derek West will fill the position over the next three-to-four months while Dryden’s Police Services Board seeks a permanent replacement for former chief Rob Davis who takes the helm of the Lethbridge Regional Police Service this month.

Growing up in Fort Frances, West was educated at Lakehead University and is a 21-year veteran of the Thunder Bay Police with experience ranging from tactical and street crime units, detective, watch commander and corporate services.

“I look for different challenges and experiences in policing and this will become another one of those,” said West. “There’s a well-established base of officers here that know the community well, so I’m here to support that in the interim and ensure good leadership right through to the selection of the next chief.”

West says his most recent experiences in the corporate realm of policing have him well-versed in the ‘lean thinking’ that has characterized the Dryden Police Service in the past year.

Local Police Services Board Chair Peter Andrusco says West is a solid selection and hopes some time spent around Dryden might persuade him to put his name in for the permanent job.

“He’s worked with a lot of our officers on various things before, so he’s not a total stranger,” said Andrusco. “We’re glad to have him. He’s an up-and-comer.”

Rob Davis leaves his post after three years and four months, recruited to take his new post in a significantly larger centre.

He says some of the job’s most lasting impressions happened at the beginning.

“It’s sad and funny all at the same time,” he said. “My first week here, I’m out walking a beat and I walk into the Dryden Native Friendship Centre’s old location on Arthur to introduce myself. It was a Thursday so they were having their community luncheon. It was packed full of people having their lunch. Frances Kavanaugh met me at the door and she asked ‘What are you doing here? You’re going to clear this place out!’ I thought she was joking, so I was making small talk trying to buy time to get her to open up to me. She wasn’t kidding. In ten minutes it was empty. To me that was a very clear illustration that there was a lot of work to be done in building a more positive relationship between members of the police and our First Nations residents.”

Davis says the decision to decommission the Communications Centre was another challenging period in his tenure.

“It was a tough decision, especially when you’re dealing with people’s careers, but it was the right decision,” said Davis. “I’m glad I was able to work with the board to see that through to its completion. Things like that don’t make you many friends within the Service itself, but I have to thank the citizens. I was overwhelmed by how many people would tell me to stay the course on it, and tell me that it was the right decision. That really meant a lot to me when people would stop me on the street or in the grocery store to say that.”





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