Many years ago Ron Wilson wanted to become a police officer — “But then I met this lovely lady 30 years ago, and life changed course.”
But his interest in policing continued and when the timing was right, the director of technical support at Cummins Western Canada decided to volunteer as an auxiliary officer for the Langley RCMP.
“It doesn’t feel like work when you love what you do,” said Wilson of his five years at the Langley detachment.
In that time he has logged an average 500 volunteer hours per year, well above the required 160. He often takes a Friday night shift that begins at 6 p.m. and ends around 3 a.m.
He’s helped in the arrest of the bad guys but he stresses that isn’t the role of auxiliary officers.
“If you are looking to be a police officer — this isn’t for you,” he said.
Yes, they carry a baton, handcuffs and pepper spray, and are trained on how to use them, but it would be a rare situation, these weapons would ever be used.
The uniform is nearly identical to a general duty officer and that can make things interesting.
“Lots of eyes are on me when I walk into a room or walk down the street. I remember there was this one time, a fight was about to break about between two groups of sports fans at a restaurant,” he said. “I walked into the restaurant with my partner, both of us in uniform, and it completely diffused the situation just by our presence.”
A constable told Wilson something that has stuck out in his mind.
“She said, ‘any time you can use verbal judo, that’s the best enforcement.’”
Wilson has been trained to do bike patrols, and does a lot of traffic control at crashes and at major events in Langley, like Canada Day. He often attends briefings, with regular members, finding out who police are looking for, where the crime hot spots are, so they can patrol the areas.
“The reward is finding impaired drivers and contribute to a safer Langley. For me, it’s about being able to give back to a community that has given so much to my family.”
It’s also in the many thanks he get from residents.
He has been thanked for doing things like traffic control at 264 Street and 0 Avenue, where things can get heated when drivers jump the border queue.
“We get a lot of thank you’s,” he said.
It’s also a good stepping stone for young people thinking of a career in policing, he said.
Several of his partners have gone on to become officers both in the municipal force and RCMP.
Becoming an auxiliary officer is a commitment, he stresses.
There is 200 hours of training, including every Saturday for eight hours per day, for six months. There are study sessions, self defense classes and two exams that must be passed in order to get in.
They are required to keep their boots shiny and uniform crisp, and learn to march.
“Everyone at the Langley detachment is really grateful for what we do and that makes it nice as well,” said Wilson.
If you are interested in becoming an auxiliary officer, call the detachment at 604-532-3200.