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Brothers take charge


February 4, 2013
By Dannette Dooley

900 words – MR dooley-mar.jpg

Photo credit: Photo courtesy of the newspaper.

HEAD: Brothers take charge

by Danette Dooley

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Chances are there are brothers serving at the same rank, in the same province, in different police agencies but in Newfoundland and Labrador a similar situation goes one step further.

Supt. Paul Dowden is the RCMP’s district policing officer for western Newfoundland. His brother, Supt. Brian Dowden, is officer in charge of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary’s Corner Brook/Labrador West Divisions.

Both top cops for the western part of The Rock are stationed in Corner Brook – in fact, they can look out their window and see each other’s office.

Heading their respective agencies in the same area of the province can only add to the seamless policing that both forces strive to provide.

When it comes to police service delivery, Paul says his focus is on tailoring Newfoundland and Labrador’s RCMP to meet the needs of the province. How he policed in other areas of the country may not work in his home province, he says.

Serious and organized crime is a national priority for the RCMP. Once crime groups entrench themselves into a particular area, Paul says, the fabric of society begins to deteriorate, as is evident through cases involving the Bacchus Outlawed Motorcycle Gang (OMG) that recently unfolded in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

The same thing is happening in PEI. A story in newspaper in August 2012 noted that the Bacchus have quietly moved into that province as it expands across Atlantic Canada. The gang is the second largest in Canada behind the Hells Angels.

Like many provinces, Paul says, Newfoundland and Labrador has an emerging threat of organized crime, especially OMGs.

He says the Bacchus has a club out in several rural areas of the province. It’s not unusual to see people driving in the province wearing motorcycle vests with the Bacchus logo.

“I think it’s fairly reasonable to say that the Bacchus is an organized crime group in Atlantic Canada,” he says.

Keeping a close eye on this OMG and any other organized crime groups that may set up shop in Newfoundland and Labrador is important, Paul says, and is in addition to regular policing duties that focus on issues such as relationship violence and drinking and driving offences.

“We address what is happening in each community and we focus on those issues,” Paul says.

The Dowden brothers were born and raised in St. John’s, Newfoundland. Paul joined the RCMP in 1986 and policed in Nova Scotia before taking a command in Flower’s Cove, Newfoundland. He was commissioned as staffing officer for “F” Division in Regina, promoted to Ottawa in 2008 and made a superintendent in 2009. He has experience working at the divisional, regional and national levels.

When asked about his most memorable posts, Paul says he loved rural policing. It’s an opportunity to wear many hats, he says: policeman, volunteer firefighter, cub leader, treasurer of a local service clubs… the list goes on. Being involved in so many groups is an opportunity to build capacity in the community, he notes.

During his time in Flower’s Cove, Paul was instrumental in establishing six family resource centres in the area. The centres were an outcome of the Integrated Services committee, which worked in partnership with numerous provincial government departments including justice, education, health and community services. The family resource centres are still going strong today.

“We come in and embrace these communities and try to leave them a little bit better than before we got there,” he says.

While Paul took on the job as top federal cop for Western Newfoundland over a year ago, Brian has only spent a few months in his new role with the RNC. He joined the force in 1983 and served as a patrol officer in St. John’s before being transferred to Labrador.

He worked as a dispatcher and in numerous other units before being promoted to sergeant in 2002 and inspector in 2006. He became second in command of the patrol services division in 2011, where he served until being promoted to superintendent for Corner Brook and Labrador West.

Brian also worked as a police explosives technician for 18 years and as the employee assistance coordinator for four years. These roles were secondary in addition to his regular duties.

His role as head of two of the three major areas that the RNC polices is all about building on what his predecessors have already established, he says. The RNC and RCMP have always had a good working relationship, he notes, often responding to the same calls for assistance and working together on joint force operations.

However, with the brothers – who are just a year and two days apart in age — now at the helm, that relationship can only get better. It’s an even greater opportunity to ensure there is seamless policing, Brian says.

It’s no different than how policing is carried out in other areas of the country where regional and municipal forces work side by side, he says.

“Geographically there is a line but we are all here standing shoulder to shoulder. We do the same job and we enforce the same legislation, but we wear a different uniform. Paul and I have been collaborating for over 50 years on everything else in our lives and now we get to do it professionally.”

dooley@blueline.ca