Blue Line

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40 year officer turning in badge


September 28, 2015
By Danette Dooley

Blair Foster was “hired off the street” in 1975 and immediately began working as a police officer in Woodstock, New Brunswick since there was no requirement to have police training.

“I worked for about three months and realized I didn’t know anything about police work so I applied to the (Atlantic) Police Academy and I was accepted. I left Hartland on January 2, 1976 and started at the police academy on January 3.”

After graduating from the academy in December 1976 he joined the Saint John Police Force, working there until May 1977 when he was hired by the Fredericton Police Force.

“I’ve been here ever since,” said Foster, who has worked in various positions – from patrol/traffic and accident reconstruction to identification and serving summonses.

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He’s seen many changes in the way police work is done over the years.

“It’s not like when we used to walk the beat 40 years ago. We never even had a portable radio when I started out. There was no Charter of Rights and Freedoms. When you arrested someone you didn’t have to give them a phone call to a lawyer,” Foster recalls.

In 2012 the New Brunswick’s Department of Public Safety presented Foster with a Certificate of Recognition for his leadership and commitment to public safety as it related to the Princess Margaret Bridge closure.

Foster was an active member of the organizing committee, according to the government’s web site. When the closure was extended in the fall of 2011, he was the first to come forward and found ways to continue the rapid response on the Westmorland Street Bridge. In 2011, Foster and his team responded to 107 incidents on the bridge. In more than half of the cases, his team was on scene before the incident was sent to dispatch.

Foster, who is from Hartland, New Brunswick didn’t hesitate when asked why he has stayed with the force so long.

“I enjoy the work,” he said. While working as a police officer is enjoyable, “It’s a young man’s game out in the street,” he added.

Fredericton Police Force Chief Leanne Fitch met Foster in 1982 when she was working as a summer park patrol student.

“I clearly recall my first encounter with him — an early lesson learned, as he growled at me for leaving my issued black ‘Police FPF’ notebook behind in the briefing room, but what I have learned over the years, is that his growl is worse than his bite and that he has a very big heart,” Fitch said.

Fitch said Foster has a passion for traffic safety and forensic identification skills, and has had a long, colourful career in policing in New Brunswick.

Foster will be presented with this 40-year bar during a ceremony at Government House in December. He will retire January 3, 2016 with fond memories of both co-workers and the men and women he has met in the line of duty.

“I will be thinking of the people that I’ve met over the years. It’s hard to explain but it’s at that point that you can either help them or you can’t — and 95 per cent of the time they usually get help. Very few slip through the cracks but a lot of these people are people you’ll remember for the rest of your life — and the people I worked with, I’ll miss them when I retire.”

Foster has no immediate plans for his retirement but, he said, it will give him an opportunity to spend more time with his partner Joy, son Blair, daughter Shelley and his three grandchild

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About Fredericton Police Force (information compiled by Nancy Kearns and Sgt. Eric Carr (Rtd)).
• Established June 27, 1851 with a strength of two officers.
• The first official chief was John Hawthorne. He was given the job in 1905 and stayed on for three years.
• The force bought its first police car in 1932.
• The first female police officer, Shirley Jollimore, was hired in 1973. There are now several female officers on the force.
• The force’s present building on Queen Street has been its home since 1983.