The new administrator of policing in Prince Rupert has taken up his duties in the city, as Inspector Bob Killbery returns to the city he once patrolled at the beginning of his long RCMP career.
In fact, this return marks the third time that he has been posted to the Prince Rupert detachment during his 30 years of service with the RCMP.
As he takes charge of the detachment he will face a number of local concerns from city residents, ranging from the increase of general vandalism to the fear of gangs with their plans, moving into the city attracted by the opening of the Fairview container Terminal.
One of his first priorities will hit a chord with many locals, as he hopes to put a greater focus on communication between the youth of Prince Rupert and the RCMP.
Those and a few of his other thoughts on policing for Prince Rupert were provided in Friday’s edition of the Daily News.
New top cop glad to return 'home' to Rupert
By Kris Schumacher
The Daily News
Friday, January 25, 2008
Pages one and five
Inspector Bob Killbery may be new to his role as inspector at the Prince Rupert RCMP, but he is by no means a rookie in the community.
This is, in fact, his third posting to Prince Rupert, the first being more than 20 years ago when he was still a constable and when the drug enforcement office he worked out of was across the street from The Daily News.
When he returned to town in 1997, it was as a corporal and second in charge of the drug section, eventually taking over as sergeant and staying in Prince Rupert until 2003. After a stint as staff sergeant in Prince George, Killbery was promoted to inspector in Vancouver where he has been stationed until recently.
"So, I've bounced around a little bit, and we saw a bit of the province," he said. "But my wife, Bev, and I always loved Rupert, and even since we left in 2003 we've travelled back at least twice a year. We've got lots of friends in the community that we've kept in contact with, so if nothing else, we're saving ourselves a big pile of gas money."
Although familiar with the community, Killbery says he's still new to the role of inspector and is still adjusting to the wide-reaching responsibilities that accompany the position.
"On the drug section, we have a very focused objective and goal, whereas this is all-encompassing in everything with the community that we really weren't exposed to before," he said.
"We worked much more in isolation and our partners would be other policing agencies, as opposed to partnering with different community groups to achieve our goals and objectives."
He's had the opportunity to see Prince Rupert both in boom and bust - the first time he was stationed in the city in the early '80s, there was a lot of money and activity, with natural resource sectors at their peak. Since then, he's seen the downturn, but says he is hopeful that the port and other business opportunities will add some economic stability to a city that is on its way up. He also knows that drugs continue to be a problem in the city, even if things have changed somewhat in 20 years.
"When I was here in the '80s, the heroin population was second to Vancouver, and although that may not be case anymore, other drugs always take their place," said Killbery. "We didn't have methamphetamines, crack cocaine and ecstacy back then, so there's all these things that have filled the void."
One area Killbery plans to focus on is the youth of Prince Rupert, and on building relationships between the RCMP and young people in the city.
Killbery says the wellbeing of young people is always a priority for the force, and he would like to increase the RCMP's role in the school district.
"We'll be working in conjunction with the school board, and at this point in time they're very receptive of programs like D.A.R.E. which I would like to see promoted," said Killbery. "I know our community policing officer Krysta Vrolyk is working very hard on that right now with other officers to deliver the program in schools, and I'd like to see that increased in the coming year."
Overall, Killbery is excited by the prospect of finishing his career in the city he has grown to love so much in his 30 years on the job.
"Actually, today [Thursday] marks 30 years of service for me," he said.
"But even with 30 years of experience, I'm still learning and it's going to take some time getting comfortable in this role. I'm hoping to provide the community with the best service possible, because, at the end of the day, this is where I live, it's my home, and where I'm likely to end up after I retire. So I want to leave it in even better shape than when I got here."