Community Peace Officers Make The Rounds to Keep Brazeau County Safe
Community Peace Officer Jesse Shymansky checks the laminated grid of speeding fines he keeps in the sun visor of his patrol vehicle: a speed of 125 km/h in a 100 km/h is listed as a $198 fine and three demerits on your driver’s license.
But the driver Shymansky has pulled over on Highway 620 doing 25 km/h over the limit won’t be paying a fine on this bright early June afternoon. She told him she’s never had a ticket. Shymansky checked via the laptop on his vehicle, and she was telling the truth.
“Your honesty has saved you $198,” he tells her, handing her license and insurance information back. “Be careful pulling back out.”
While Shymansky and fellow CPO Steve Goodman make it their mission to address everyone respectfully, there are times a ticket just has to be written. Safety, after all, is the priority.
North of Cynthia on Highway 753, Shymansky pulls over a truck doing 133 km/h in the 100 km/h zone. The driver, from Calgary, has at least 45 speeding or vehicle infractions on his record. Shymansky writes out the ticket for his 46th. on the busy highways and peaceful range roads of brazeau county, community peace officers patrol with an eye on safety and community “He had his documents ready for me,” Shymansky notes. “He knows the drill.”
Enforcing speed limits is one of the duties that Shymansky and Goodman perform for the County, along with protecting the County’s biggest asset, road infrastructure through enforcement of overweight vehicles restrictions and road bans. They also enforce a number of municipal bylaws and provincial regulations, covering everything from the Dangerous Dogs Act to the Tobacco Tax Act. Along with speeding enforcement, rules of the road regulations, and vehicle equipment regulations are the most common duties. CPOs may be called upon at a moment’s notice to assist with everything from a property complaint to assisting in an evacuation in case of emergency.
The peace officers also address property complaints and often are called upon to ease disputes between neighbours. Maintaining an excellent relationship with the local RCMP detachments, they help out where their authority allows, especially as an extra set of eyes and ears. In February, Goodman assisted in the RCMP in recovering two stolen vehicles in the County.
“We’re not here to be another form of taxation,” Shymansky says as he prepares his vehicle for his shift, including calibrating the speed radar device and checking in with the police dispatcher. “We’re here to be visible and to keep the roads safe for everybody.”
In one eight-hour shift, CPOs cover as much of the 3,021 square kilometres of Brazeau County – which stretches from west of the Brazeau Dam to east of Breton and from north of Berrymoor to south of Buck Creek — as they can, making sure to be in each zone of the municipality a roughly equal amount of time. They can log as many as 500 kilometres on the road in a single shift. At all times, their attention is focused – on approaching cars, the sides of the road, lease road access points – in case there is a problem.
“Our main purpose is to be responding to residents and their concerns,” Shymansky says, as he drives through all of Lodgepole, waving at residents out in their yards.
Accountability, like visibility, is another priority. The GPS units and video cameras in the patrol vehicles and clip-on microphones on the officers ensure location, speed, and interactions with drivers and residents are recorded in case evidence is required later.
“We’re accountable for all of our actions,” Shymansky says.
The CPOs can appear intimidating, with their body armor and heavy belts carrying everything from keys to handcuffs and a baton, but they are very much part of the communities they serve. Shymansky was born and raised in the area, and Goodman has lived here for 29 years. You will see them in Canada Day parades and other community events, in local schools supporting the Community School Resource Officers, and in Goodman’s case, on the River Valley Player’s stage (he was most recently Gomez in the Addams Family musical). He was also the Reviewing Officer for the local Air Cadets squadron’s Annual Review in early June.
Goodman has been serving our community in one form or another since 1991 as a member of the Drayton Valley/Brazeau County Fire department and as an Auxiliary Constable with the local RCMP, assisting general duty officers.
Shymansky started assisting police as a part of the Citizens on Patrol program, volunteering his time patrolling in his personal vehicle, being an extra set of eyes and ears for the RCMP and reporting any suspicious activity and any crimes that were in progress. He too has volunteered thousands of hours as an Auxiliary Constable.
You can also see the way the CPOs love and serve their communities by the way they interact with people. As part of the same shift with Shymansky that the Brazeau County News tagged along on, he stops in to follow up on a complaint of three vehicles in a County ditch. He gently reminds the landowner that the vehicles are to be removed. The landowner says she and her partner hadn’t been able to remove them yet, and her partner is away with the keys. They’ve been busy working to clear their trees and brush on their new acreage.
“I hear you,” Shymansky tells her. “I’ve been working on my acreage for two-and-a-half-years and there’s still things to do.”
Back in his vehicle, Shymansky calls the person who complained about the cars and lets her know he’s touched base with the vehicle owners on the matter. The concerned resident is grateful to be updated, even if the cars won’t be removed right away.
That’s two landowners satisfied that their concerns are being addressed and that they are being treated fairly and respectfully.
“This is my office,” Shymansky says, gesturing across the windshield as he drives back toward the Brazeau County Administration Building as the ridealong ends. The hours of patrolling can be lonely, and both CPOs have their share of road stories about dangerous driving and dangerous situations (“you don’t know who you’re pulling over”). But in the end, each mile in the patrol vehicle is rewarding.
“I enjoy helping people,” Shymansky says. “I had positive experiences with law enforcement as a kid, and I want to continue that tradition.”
“I feel that giving back to your community in which you live is extremely important,” Goodman says. “My path is in Emergency Services, keeping our residents a little safer is very rewarding for me and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Brazeau County Community Peace Officers are here to serve. Anyone with questions can reach them, as well as Director of Community Services Lee Chambers, at 780-542-7777.