By John DeCoste
Inspector Mike Payne says he’s enjoyed the almost three years he has spent as commanding officer of Kings District RCMP, and admits he has mixed feelings as he prepares to leave this area next month to take up a new position.
As of July 4, Payne will be working out of the RCMP headquarters in Halifax in a position called Federal Policy Support and Intelligence. The shift is a lateral transfer with no promotion attached, as Payne already holds the rank of inspector.
“I’m going to have province-wide responsibilities, leading teams that provide support to major investigations of organized crime,” he said.
He “won’t be leading teams of investigators per se,” but rather providing support to those teams.
His responsibilities will include the intelligence program, crime analyst program, physical and electronic surveillance teams, major case management, technology crime, explosives disposal and V.I.P. security.
“Each of those teams is led by senior officers, who will report to me,” he said. “And while I’m looking forward to the new challenge, I have to admit I have very mixed feelings about leaving.”
His new role will be different from his duties here, which involved more “grass roots” police service, he said.
“I’ve really enjoyed my time here, and I feel a sense of accomplishment that what we do here has impacted peoples’ lives directly.”
As for highlights of the past three years, Payne cited the reorganization of Kings District RCMP along more of an east-west model, adding, “a key to that has been the support of the municipalities in providing four additional officers.”
Two years ago, he said, there was one supervisor and eight constables working out of Kingston. Now, with restructuring and the Berwick pilot project, there are 16 staff members in Kingston, with responsibility for all of Western Kings.
“It’s not only a more efficient model, it’s allowed us to offer 24-hour policing in Western Kings, including Berwick,” Payne said.
The restructuring has also had an impact on the Eastern Kings sector, with eight Wolfville constables having been rolled into the New Minas complement. Currently, Sgt. Power oversees Eastern Kings from New Minas, and Sgt. Green oversees Western Kings from Kingston.
“They take care of a lot of the day-to-day details,” Payne said. “It goes without saying that the support from the municipalities that has made it possible for this to happen has been tremendous.”
Another highlight for Payne has been an overall reduction in crime, community-wide, over the past three years – there’s been an overall drop of 10 per cent since 2011, and a nine per cent drop so far in 2013 over the same period last year.
Payne acknowledged the introduction of 24-hour policing county-wide is likely a factor.
“I really believe our dedicated crime analyst is making a difference, too,” he added.
The crime analyst looks at police occurrences and intelligence gathered by police officers, then compares it to the criminal history of offenders, providing maps of crime ‘hot spots’, potential suspects and areas for focused police activities.
She has also compiled statistical analysis to identify the ‘top-10’ offenders with court-imposed conditions for active monitoring by patrol officers.
Payne says he’s also proud of the partnership between the RCMP and the Kentville Police Service, including an integrated street crime enforcement unit operating county-wide.
“We’ve provided the KPS duty officer sergeant with a portable radio so that if issues arise, we can communicate with each other,” he said.
Overall, Payne feels he is leaving with policing in Kings County “definitely moving in the right direction.” He admits to feeling “a sense of accomplishment” when he reflects back on what has taken place over the last three years to make that happen.
Payne’s replacement, Inspector Christie MacNaughton, will arrive in July. Originally from Nova Scotia, she served many years with the RCMP in this province, but has most recently been stationed in Ottawa.
“She’s a people person and should be a good fit for our community,” he said, adding he’s hoping for a smooth and uneventful transition.