As of August 8, there will be an new officer in charge at the Smithers RCMP detachment.
Sgt. Mark Smaill, who has been the detachment commander in Houston since January 2020, will be taking over from Staff Sgt. Terry Gillespie with the requisite bump in rank.
Gillespie was promoted earlier this year to become the officer in charge for Terrace.
Smaill is very familiar with policing in the Northwest having spent the first six years of his career in Houston as a constable before transferring to Prince Rupert to be a member of the force’s coastal police unit.
He was there until 2016 and then spent one year on a variety of crime prevention and community policing initiatives before returning to Houston as a corporal in 2018 to be the detachment’s operations non-commissioned officer responsible for day-to-day administrative and logistical tasks.
Born in Manitoba, Smaill was a firefighter with the Saskatoon Fire Department for 10 years before joining the RCMP.
“As a firefighter, a first responder, you’d go to a scene and when done, you’d come back, clean yourself up and wait for the next call,” Smaill said.
Watching the police in action as a first responder motivated Smaill to make the career change.
“I saw that the police were involved more with people afterward, helping them more and a lot of the time, making their lives better,” he said.
Smaill told The Interior News crime prevention will be a priority of his tenure in Smithers, particularly in the downtown core. He said he has already been in contact with town council and downtown merchants.
“I think there’s some concern about some recent crime, recent activity in the area, and I just want to make sure that we’re responding as best we can and appropriately to keep everyone safe and feeling safe,” he said. “Part of that is going to be making sure that police presence in the area, that we’re visible, accessible. And that includes things like getting out on foot and bike patrols, which have been something that Smithers has done quite often in the past and we just want to make sure we continue that and maybe increase it, if at all possible.”
Smithers Mayor Gladys Atrill said her first impression of Smaill was a good one.
“I’m glad that we’ve got someone and I’m glad we have that type of tight transition… and that Terry is only going to Terrace,” she said. “The memory is close and it seems like the communication is good between them, so I feel good about that too.
Smaill also sees community policing as a priority and hopes he can beef up some of the community initiatives, such as Citizens on Patrol, that have taken a hit over the past couple of years.
“Definitely having partners that are willing to assist closely with the police, that’s definitely a priority,” he said. “I totally understand that COVID has kind of put a bit of a damper on a lot of the activities of a lot of volunteer agencies and even businesses.”
He is excited about being in Smithers.
“It’s a beautiful community,” he said. “I’ve had the opportunity to visit and play in the area, on the lakes and on the mountain, and I really enjoy the downtown area. So, I’m really looking forward to being a part of the community.”
– With files from Rod Link