The Auxiliary Constable Program is a volunteer program that is intended to enhance community-based policing and provide an opportunity for citizens to participate in law enforcement on an organized basis.
Auxiliary constables are issued a peace officer appointment from the province. The appointment is only in effect when the auxiliary constable is under the direct supervision of a regular RCMP member.
Auxiliary constables work alongside RCMP members doing their regular duties. However, auxiliary constables cannot perform law enforcement duties and are not intended to replace RCMP members, but they are there to support them.
“Their role is to provide a complimentary service to the RCMP and the primary focus of their duties is generally directed towards enhancing the delivery of community policing programs,” said Cpl. Leanne Molzahn, of the Red Deer RCMP.
The program was first introduced nationally in 1963. It began in Alberta in 1978 and currently has 450 auxiliary constables posted throughout the province. In Red Deer, the program currently has six auxiliary constables.
Auxiliary constables also assist with community events such as Westerner Days and Canada Day festivities doing patrols and traffic control, among others. They also participate in events like bicycle safety campaigns and the children identification kit program as well.
In terms of training, auxiliary constables have to complete a four-day program where participants learn the basics of law, power of arrests, self-defense, first aid and conflict/resolution techniques.
One local auxiliary constable has recently contributed hundreds of hours to the program.
Lyle Cheney, an auxiliary constable who has been involved in the program for 13 and a half years, contributed nearly 415 hours in volunteer work last year. The minimum commitment for those involved in the program is to volunteer at least 160 hours per year.
“I find it really interesting and I like the idea of volunteering. I think everyone should volunteer in some way,” said Cheney. “With this, you can see that you are making a difference. When I’m done a shift I know I’ve put some bad guys in jail or that I have helped somebody. It’s very tangible and I know that it’s very valuable.”
In recognition of his commitment to the program, Cheney was recently presented with a certificate.
“We want to take the time to recognize someone like Lyle who goes above and beyond with donating their time,” said Molzahn.
Cheney said ever since a young age, he took an interest in policing.
“I always had an interest in law enforcement and when I was young I wanted to be a police officer. My business, however, took me in another direction,” he said. “This way I can get to be involved in law enforcement but I don’t have to be a full-time member.
“Most years I try and do around the same amount of time. I try and work every week. It is significant but there are others who put in the same amount of time that I do,” said Cheney. “I love being able to give back to the community. Not everyone is cut out to do this kind of volunteer work, but my skill set lends itself to this, so I have always enjoyed it.”
In addition, Molzahn added the auxiliary constables are a huge asset to the regular RCMP members at the detachment.
“They are an invaluable resource. They are people who have made the choice to come out and give their time, energy and skills freely, working with the regular members,” she said. “Their contribution is always greatly appreciated.”
Meanwhile, the Red Deer RCMP are actively accepting applications for the program at this time.
“We are going through a process right now where we are going through security clearances for a number of people,” said Molzahn. “We are hoping to generate some interest and encourage people if they are interested to gather further information and to apply.”
Requirements for the program include the applicants must be Canadian citizens between the age of 19 and 60. They must possess a valid Alberta driver’s license and have completed high school or have equivalent work related experience.
Applicants must also be able to attain a security clearance, have good hearing and vision and be in good physical shape. Applicants must also possess current certification in first aid and CPR. As well, applicants must run the Physical Abilities Requirement Evaluation in a time of 4:45 minutes or less.
“Essentially we are looking for someone who has an idea of what they are getting into. This is an understanding that you need to be flexible and be prepared for a variety of situations – that is one of the things that comes with police work – you don’t always know what’s going to happen next or what the next call will be,” said Molzahn. “It requires the ability for that person to transition and face certain situations that won’t be comfortable.”
Cheney said for him, it’s been a rewarding volunteer experience.
“I would encourage people to apply – it’s rewarding, interesting and exciting,” he said. “You see some bad things and you see some good things too. But you have to have the kind of personality that can handle conflict.”
Applications are available on the RCMP web site or can be picked up at the downtown detachment.