Ponoka RCMP detachment commander Staff Sgt. Chris Smiley told town council on Oct. 25, that he has accepted a new post and will be moving on after six years of serving the community of Ponoka.
On Nov. 1, Smiley will take over as the provincial co-coordinator for the Regional Police and Crisis Teams (RPACT) in Edmonton.
The RPACT program is a collaboration between Alberta Health Services (AHS) and the RCMP that pairs police with a nurse to respond to mental health calls for service.
“I’m very excited to get in on this program,” said Smiley, adding that one of the most important things he was involved with during his time in Ponoka was collaborating on mental health calls.
“The areas where police and health care overlap — that is our most vulnerable citizens and the liability for all agencies involved is huge so you really need a close working relationship.”
Smiley said the challenge is getting two “huge bureaucratic” organizations (AHS and the RCMP) to work together effectively.
“I think we’ve achieved that here in Ponoka, absolutely, and I’m excited to take that experience to my next challenge on the provincial level.”
“It’s been an honour and a privilege to work with you,” said Mayor Kevin Ferguson.
Ferguson then presented Smiley with a gift on behalf of the town and council.
Smiley responded that he’s learned a lot since coming to Ponoka as the operations NCO (second in command), and it was quite the learning curve when he became the acting detachment commander.
What he was originally told would be three months turned out to be two years in that role.
He noted what was important to him in his presentations to council over the years was to tell the story behind the statistics and reports and bring items of concern, both normal and systemic, to their attention.
Future challenges for the Ponoka detachment on the leadership front will be getting the ball rolling again on a new detachment building, and a budget item of re-classifying one constable position on their General Investigation Section unit to a corporal position, said Smiley.
Sgt. Erin St-Cyr will be the acting detachment commander starting Nov. 1.
“I’m eager and prepared to accept this challenge,” said St-Cyr, adding she’s been made to feel at home in Ponoka. “I’m dedicated and committed to this community.”
St-Cyr thanked Smiley for his mentorship and leadership and added there was no one better to tackle the job he will be doing.