Reflection

I’ve started running the trails again, the ones that I used to run with PD Hondo.

People and dogs populate the trails in the warmer months, and, unless I’m working, I dislike crowds. Now that the weather is starting to cool off and the leaves are falling, I have the trails pretty much to myself.

To some, it may seem like a bad idea (from a safety point of view) that I’m running alone, but I take the necessary precautions of not wearing earphones, being alert and trail running only when it’s light out. I could take a human buddy, but my point in running is to do it solo.

No white noise, no talking, no music.

In that sense, PD Hondo was the perfect running partner. Not only was he a four-legged body guard, he’d keep pace and the two of us would weave through whatever trail took our fancy. The only noise was the sound of my shoes (his paws were mostly silent), my steady breaths and his slightly quicker panting.

Now, though, the only sounds are the steady beat of my runners and the occasional call from the two resident bald eagles that nest along one stretch.

It’s different than it was a year ago, but that’s okay. Life is pretty good these days, and I have a lot to reflect on.

I’ve got my health, my family & friends, and a pretty cool job.

Besides another canine partner, what more could a woman ask for?

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The Other Side

Today was my first day off, and I spent the afternoon on South Granville.

Not only did I score rock-star parking (at $2.00 an hour), I got to watch my police brothers and sisters in action while they dealt with an arrest.

It was weird, watching them when they had no idea I was there. I was like many of the other passer-bys…but I knew what was going on, and it was really cool to see it from the ‘other side’.

The situation was well in hand, so there was no need for me to offer assistance or interupt the proceedings. Everything was under control by the time I happened upon the scene, and the officers were like a well oiled machine – professional, well spoken, compassionate.

It was pretty cool, and made me really proud to a part of what those officers stand for.

Well done, guys & gals.

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Life as a Social Media Officer

It’s been an interesting first month as the Vancouver Police Department’s social media officer.

After spending almost my entire working life outside, on my feet or in a car, it’s a new experience sitting at a desk. At least the desk is next to a floor-to-ceiling window with a nice south view, so it still sort of feels like I’m outside, especially when the sun is out. I’ll have to remember to bring sunscreen.

The actual work is similar, though. I’m still interacting with people (albeit online), answering crime related questions, and liaising with other units in and outside the VPD. Though I’m at a desk, I have the ability to grab a car and go if need be, and my Sgt. has a radio that I keep sneaking over to my desk to listen to (old habits die hard and I’ve been told that I’ll eventually lose this habit, but I’m not so sure…).

One thing that is different is the mercurial temperature of those who are vocal about their love or hate for the Vancouver Police Department.

Those who support the VPD are really supportive.

It’s really nice to see the good relationships between the various units in the department and the general public, and to read the ‘atta boys’ that come in through the departmental email on a regular basis. It’s this part of the new position that gives me a love-my-job sort of feeling.

On the flip side, those who don’t support the police really don’t support them.

I’m not talking about the ones who challenge police to think outside the box or the ones who engage in spirited debate, or even those who are critical about policies or tactics. I’m talking about those who absolutely despise law enforcement.

 

troll

 

I usually ignore these sorts, as nothing I’m going to say is going to change their mind. 

But while the solution for trolls is the big ol’ block button, other users need to be addressed when they use social media to disrespect a fallen member, or wrongfully accuse a member of a heinous crime.

Which I’m more than happy to do.

So while this new job is a far cry from what I’ve done for the last 18 years, it’s a little like coming home, too.

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Social Media in Today’s Policing World

Facebook.

Twitter.

Blogging (like the one you are reading now!).

Pinterest.

All of these are social media platforms for people to interact with other people and companies. According to Merriam-Webster, social media is described as “forms of electronic communication through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages and other content.”

And in case the title and first few sentences of this post didn’t give it away, yesterday was my first day as the Vancouver Police Department‘s newest Social Media Officer within the Community & Public Affairs Section.

Whoot, whoot!

The position has been filled by Cst. Anne Longley since 2010, and she has been instrumental in bringing the VPD into the 21st century in terms of Facebook and Twitter. Cst. Longley’s foresight, ability and passion for social media make the VPD one of the front-runners in the policing, and law enforcement agencies from all over the world network with her to share advice and tips.

However, Cst. Longley  will eventually transition to another section and the VPD realizes how important her position is. I applied for and was interviewed for the job, and was advised late last week that I had been successful.

Now, for the next few weeks, I’ll be shadowing Cst. Longley as she passes on her social media playbook – I only hope I’m up to the task! What remains clear, though, is the impact social media has on police/community relations, and it’s something I take very seriously.

Talk about a different career direction, eh?

From being in operational policing for 18 years, driving a K9 SUV and tracking bad guys with my police dog to steering an electronic device.

 

A Fresh Start

During my last few years in the Dog Squad, I had thought my career would progress on the expected path of developing the skills required for promotion to Sergeant.

What I did not expect was the drastic turn my personal life would take when we lost my husband’s sister to cancer last year. Her death rippled through my husband’s large family and it affected everyone. This wonderful woman left behind a dearly loved husband and four chersished daughters.

Promotion to Sergeant was suddenly low on the priority list. Writing became near impossible. Exhaustion was ever present.

We grieved as a family and we grieved by ourselves. Our children had never been exposed to the loss of a loved one. My husband, who has always been my constant supporter, needed me to be the oak tree – strong and unbendable, able to support our family through an extremely difficult time.

I was like an oak tree.

Because I, in turn, had my own grove of oak trees – my fellow dog handlers, fellow officers and friends.

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Hondo’s cancer diagnosis was a direct kick in the gut.

On the heels of everything else, my first thought was, “Really? You have got to be kidding. No.”

I miss him.

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My temporary assignment to an investigative squad was arranged well in advance of my departure from the Dog Squad.

I’ve been working in this investigative spot since the beginning of January but have been given the green light to pursue another avenue within the police department.

It’s an avenue that I’m very passionate about, and one that is very important, especially in today’s world.

In a sense, this green light signals a fresh start.

I begin on Monday.

I’ll fill you in then.

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