The last member of Princeton’s RCMP Auxiliary program retired in 2017 after 27 years – and he has lots of memories to show for his dedication.
“Policing has always been a field that I had been interested in, and this was a great way to give back to my own community and get a taste of policing,” said Russell Biagioni, who received a service medal at the local detachment this week.
While Biagioni and his wife Darla recently moved to Kelowna, he was born and raised in Princeton. In the past he was a sheriff in Penticton and was also employed by the Princeton Light and Power Company. He joined the auxiliary in when he was working in the logging industry.
It was a demanding and rewarding job, he said.
While auxiliary members were required to put in 160 hours of unpaid work per year – after a six-month training period – Biagioni sometimes logged as many as 500 hours annually.
When Biagioni signed up police cruisers were blue and auxiliaries carried guns. The latter practice ended in 1997.
The experiences on the job varied from heartbreaking to happy, he said.
“I’ve been spat on, vomited on, had body fluids on me, physically and verbally threatened.
“I’ve attended domestic disputes that involved small children, which is a very sad situation to deal with. Vehicle accidents too were also tough when innocent children or pets were involved.”
“I’ve attended many suicides, some of the victims I had known personally.”
Biagioni said the worst crime scene he was involved with was the murder of two infant twin girls, who were discarded in an outhouse near Allison Lake in 1994.
He called the case “heart wrenching.”
However there were many good times over the decades. The volunteer was assigned to general duty, highway patrol, bike patrol, boat patrol, safety talks and community events, public relations, traffic and crowd control and searches for lost persons.
For many years he ran the bike rodeo, soap box derby and children’s’ fingerprinting program.
“I enjoyed being involved with the very young children, and remember the times we would have the Kindergarten class come into the cop shop and take a tour. They loved the police cars’ lights and sirens, enjoyed getting finger printed and getting locked up in the cells.”
The very best part though “was working with all the regular members of our Princeton detachment, the bond we will always have, and serving my community.”