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OFFICER JOB SWAP OPENS EYES


April 17, 2013
By Sigrid Forberg

736 words – MR

Officer job swap opens eyes

RCMP and Fredericton police choose collaboration

by Sigrid Forberg

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Fredericton Police Force (FPF) Insp. Dan Goodwin was a little apprehensive when RCMP Supt. Guy Rook, J Division Federal Policing Officer, asked him to participate in the first year-long officer exchange.

Acting as the OIC of the FPF Criminal Investigations Division, Goodwin was concerned he might have to manage expectations as he waded into unfamiliar municipal territory. That fear soon faded as Rook quickly found common ground with the FPF members reporting to him.

“We’re not that different at all – maybe in size – but we’re looking at the same crime and trying to do the best for the citizens in our communities,” says Goodwin. “That was apparent and I was able to rely on the good people there to work hard and help me.”

Goodwin’s exchange partner, RCMP Insp. Gary Forward, was also apprehensive. Moving outside his comfort zone, his major concern was that he would represent his organization well. Within a week, both officers felt welcomed and respected by their new teams.

“I looked at this as a developmental opportunity to see how things were being done from a federal perspective and get exposure and experience that I never would be able to get through the municipal policing world,” says Forward.

{Professional growth}

Rook found Goodwin and Forward’s concerns unfounded, saying the idea for the exchange, which he credits to commanding officer Asst. Comm. Wayne Lang, was well-thought out and forward-thinking.

“The friendships between the agencies are really strong here,” says Rook. “The CO wanted to pave the road for the kind of relationships we have now for our future leaders.” Rook adds that Goodwin and Forward were chosen for their excellent people skills, in addition to their other qualifications. He says neither senior management team was worried that either would have a hard time integrating with their new teams.

“Somebody was going to come here that never went to Depot and someone was going to go there that hadn’t spent their career in the municipal force,” says Rook. “You had to choose people that were going to walk in and have the team under their full command.” Throughout the job swap, Goodwin and Forward kept in close touch and that close communication is something both hope will continue.

“On my way out someone said, ‘Inspector, you’ve been there for how many years and we do the same work and I’ve never met you before’,” says Goodwin. “They’re absolutely right. I’d like to think I left them knowing it’s that easy to break down those barriers.”

{Strong impressions}

Forward hopes his leadership style influences local RCMP members. In an organization where police officers spend their entire careers in the same place, human resource and communications issues that bubble up need to be dealt with swiftly. Forward opts for a mandate of being positive, professional and people-oriented as a leader.

“I just knew right from the get-go that I wasn’t the least bit interested in letting them down – especially after everything they’d done to support me,” says Forward. “I hoped to improve things where opportunities presented themselves and to do so in a respectful and helpful manner.”

When both inspectors went back to their respective organizations at the end of September, the RCMP held a ceremony to present Forward with an award of distinction for excellence in human resource management.

Both organizations hope to have future opportunities like the exchange. Forward says he’ll use his experience with the RCMP to further develop other personal and professional goals.

“It helps us make decisions. We have those connections now that when something happens in the city, we know we can just pick up the phone,” says Goodwin. “It certainly opened my eyes. At all levels, there’s so much we can do for each other.”

Senior management was happy too. It’s an initiative Rook says they’d like to continue in the future at various levels – possibly even middle management.

“You have a good thing but if you want to keep it good or make it better, you have to invest in the future,” says Rook. “It’s not about turf and or responsibility – the public expects the very best and so we have to challenge our policies, systems and our people to be more collaborative.”

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Sigrid Forberg is a communications specialist with the RCMP National Communications Services branch. Contact her at 613 843-4540 for more information.