Sgt. Russ Howard, a familiar face at the Sunshine Coast RCMP Detachment, will soon leave the Coast for a new posting in Nanaimo.
While the move is a lateral one for his career, it puts him closer to his wife’s children and the couple want to retire on the Island eventually. Howard’s looking forward to the move, but said he’ll miss the people and natural beauty of the Sunshine Coast.
“It’s hard to top this,” he noted.
Howard has been at the local detachment since April 14, 2009 when he transferred as a corporal from the Kelowna detachment for a promotion to sergeant and commander of the plainclothes division.
The plainclothes officers support the general duty officers in investigations, some of which lend themselves to more discreet work.
“We’re usually called in on serious investigations, whether it be serious assaults, robberies, serious sex assaults, homicides obviously, drug investigations, trafficking, grow ops, stuff like that is what we’re involved in,” Howard said. “People don’t recognize us so we can be out doing surveillance … they don’t know we are police until we actually identify ourselves.”
While Howard was hired for the plainclothes commander position, he got an unexpected promotion after just a few months on the job.
“In July, I was asked to step in as the acting detachment commander and I stayed in that position until January of 2011,” Howard said, explaining the detachment commander at the time was on long term medical leave. “The assistant commissioner asked me to step in, which was supposed to be just a short term thing. It turned out to be about 18 months. I hadn’t run a detachment before and my background is major crimes investigation, so it was a bit of a learning curve.”
Since 2011, when Staff Sgt. Herb Berdhal started, Howard has been serving in the plainclothes commander position he was originally hired for.
During his time at the local detachment, Howard has been involved in a number of high profile cases and busts, but he’s most proud of his work as detachment commander.
“I’m most proud of just keeping the detachment running during my tenure as detachment commander. It was a difficult spot to fill. If I had said no to it, they would have had problems because they couldn’t bring anyone in temporarily. They would have had to move somebody here,” Howard said.
He’s also proud of the men and women he’s served with on the Coast during the past four and a half years.
“Their devotion to the residents of the Sunshine Coast community and the RCMP is second to none,” he said.
Howard’s last day of work on the Coast will be Oct. 7. He starts as a commander of one of three general investigation teams in Nanaimo on Oct. 15.