Being part of a workforce where transitions often take place can be difficult. Whether it be moving to a different city, or even a different province, having people who know the local area can be an asset. This is particularly true when that job is with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).
To help with this, there is an auxiliary constable program. The auxiliary members are unpaid volunteers who are in the capacity of assisting regular members in their duties in the community.
Traditionally, they were a second set of eyes for the RCMP, but are now used to provide assistance, whether with road safety issues, community talks, or with general knowledge about the community itself.
One of these auxiliary members is Arnold Alstad. Alstad has been part of the auxiliary program for 19 years and he was recently awarded three pins for his service. The pins represent the five, ten, and fifteen year milestones he’s achieved.
Alstad has lived in Nakusp his whole life.
“I’ve been here for a year, and I’ve been able to speak with him on a lot of things,” said Cpl. Jason Burndred. “He’s provided some valuable insight into the community.”
Alstad first joined the program because he wanted to help get drugs off the street.
“I don’t like to see drugs in the hands of kids,” he said. “That’s the main thing, and giving back to the community, helping the members, especially in the search and rescue side of it.”
Burndred said Alstad has been a tremendous asset to the RCMP when it comes to search and rescue operations, and his experience and knowledge has been a great help. When the plane crash took place at Trout Lake in April, Alstad helped out with his knowledge of the mountainous area where the plane went down.
“There was a lot of snow up there at the time,” said Burndred. “Arnold was able to provide the members with an extra set of tools to keep themselves safe in that situation, knowing the mountainous terrain and what to expect.”
In the 19 years Alstad has been part of the program, he has amassed many memorable events. One of the more difficult events was when he had to notify the next of kin of a person who had passed away. A young man who was the father of about six children had died. He spent roughly 11 hours with the family.
Another difficult one was a suicide, which took place in the back country. An RCMP officer on hand was having some difficulty in dealing with it, so Alstad supported him as well.
Though there are negative aspects to the job, Alstad emphasized the positives as well.
“We had a lot of fun with Music Fest,” he said. “We had a lot of laughs with the local people, and people visiting.”
When asked how long he planned on continuing with the auxiliary program, his answer was simple.
“I’ll carry on as long as I’m still enjoying it and as long as I’m still a benefit to the members. If it’s 25 years, so be it, if it’s 20 years, I guess next summer.”
He doesn’t see himself losing his enjoyment any time soon.