Maskwacis sergeant receives provincial award

A member of the Maskwacis RCMP has received an esteemed Community Justice Award.

RCMP Sgt. Gary MacLaren was one of six recipients of the esteemed Community Justice Award from Friday

RCMP Sgt. Gary MacLaren was one of six recipients of the esteemed Community Justice Award from Friday

A member of the Maskwacis RCMP has received an esteemed Community Justice Award.

Sgt. Gary MacLaren is one of six recipients who received the award from the Alberta Justice and Solicitor General at a ceremony held Friday, June 3 in Calgary.

The reason for being nominated, and eventually receiving the award, was due to creating in-roads with Maskwacis residents by getting himself and his staff, part of a community policing effort, to be readily available to residents. MacLaren said hearing he was nominated came as a complete surprise and honour. He is in charge of a 12 member community response unit with many members involved in the community.

Along with lending out the detachment’s tee pee, MacLaren and his staff attend powwows and visit folks during hockey games or other events. His goal? Focus on the positive.

“A lot of it is just encouraging members to be involved,” said MacLaren.

That involvement has created an environment of trust. For MacLaren, it’s all about education. Sometimes residents will store firearms at home for their own safekeeping, which is determined during voluntary home inspections. If found with one, rather than charge them, the response unit allows people to surrender the firearms with no charge.

The other thing the unit does is keep lines of communication open with youths by, “trying to be involved with the youth as much as we can…we care.”

MacLaren is also part of several community groups that have helped raise funds during a charity Check Stop, which raised $9,700 to raise awareness for impaired driving. While doing that he is also a coach for a local youth hockey team.

Tully Johnson another recipient

While Tully Johnson isn’t necessarily from the Ponoka area, he has many clients and friends nearby.

Johnson received his award for strong commitment to the rural crime watch community and reinvigorating the Rosebrier Rural Crime Watch, which started in 1984. Johnson further energized the group when elected as chairperson in 2011.

Developing a close relationship with the Wetaskiwin RCMP, Johnson has helped create strong awareness and a positive collaboration with RCMP in the area.

For his part hearing of the award was a complete honour and surprise. Organizers rolled out the proverbial red carpet for him and the other four recipients. Receiving this treatment was something he was not used to as Johnson’s goal has always been to keep rural residents informed of what is happening.

To make that happen he spent many hours getting to know the staff sergeant in Wetaskiwin and over time he was able to create a positive, collaborative work relationship. At times staff at the detachment joked that they should just give him his own office, explained Johnson.

“I go over and above what I need to,” said Johnson proudly of his involvement.

Rosebrier’s rural crime watch now has 112 members.

Other recipients of the award include agencies the Aventa Centre of Excellence for Women with Addictions, the Kainai Peacemaking Program, Const. Steven Baker with the Lethbridge Police Service and Const. Scott Lowe with the Peace River RCMP.