Crossfield’s new RCMP officer is relishing the opportunity to partake in some old-fashioned community policing.
Since September 2019, Const. Kirby Erickson has patrolled Crossfield’s streets as the town’s enhanced police officer – a role that falls under the Airdrie RCMP detachment’s rural service.
“It’s a great town and I love the people here,” he said. “My main focus is just relationship-building – that’s the big thing I’m focusing on.”
An RCMP officer in Alberta for the last nine years, Erickson was posted in Beiseker for four years and in Barrhead, Alta., before that. He said he worked as a carpenter for 10 years before becoming a Mountie.
Erickson said he enjoys the nuances of small-town policing, adding it is easier to connect with community members than it is in a big city.
“It gives you the opportunity to see someone multiple times and go, ‘Hey, John, how’s it going?’” he said. “Small towns are good for that. I know that’s not everyone’s thing, but it’s my thing.”
One aspect of the job Erickson said he particularly enjoys is visiting local schools. He’s already given talks on forensic science in classrooms at W.G. Murdoch School, adding he and the school’s administration are now working on a presentation for the school’s grad ceremony this spring, including a segment on impaired driving awareness.
Being “visible” to the town’s youth is a crucial part of his job, according to Erickson, and maintaining a presence in the town’s schools plays a big part in that.
“A lot of times, it’s just about…walking the hallways, talking to the teachers, talking to the students, just so they get comfortable with me [and see] I’m not a threat to them,” he said. “If they ever do have an issue that they want to talk to the police about, it’s a friendly face they can come speak to.”
Policing in a small town can be a solitary task – something Erickson said he has gotten used to over the years.
“Before this, I was in Beiseker, and a lot of the time I would be working by myself,” he said. “A lot of the time, with the resources we have in the RCMP, you get a little bit more different calls, and you’re doing a lot of it on your own.
“It’s a different frame of mind. There’s always back-up there, but you do have a lot of responsibility and the calls vary.”
Despite the wide-ranging work that arises when working solo, Erickson said, the experience gained makes the effort worth it.
“If you’re in a big city, a lot of times, there are specialized units that will take over [a case],” he said. “That’s one big benefit of policing in a small town – you get to stay with a file from the beginning to the end.”