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Police auxiliary complements rank and file through volunteerism

'Sometimes it’s nice to simply contribute without expectation and motive,' says longtime auxiliary officer in Barrie

In the wonderful world of volunteering opportunities, one that helps keep your community safe could top the list.

What better way to do that than being part of the Barrie police auxiliary unit?

So thought Special Const. Kelly McBride, who is now an auxiliary unit platoon sergeant after joining the service in 2005.

“I had always admired police, the discipline of wearing the uniform, enforcing the law, multi-tasking and interacting with, serving and protecting the community,” she tells BarrieToday. “I see them as the glue to a civil and democratic society and I also felt that one’s life truly begins, when you begin to serve.”

The Barrie Police Service Auxiliary Unit is comprised of a group of volunteers, who assist regular patrol officers with uniform duties and special events.

“Auxiliary police complement the service and our community by adding thousands of volunteer hours,” says McBride. “Currently, you can look through the ranks of the Barrie Police Service and see many an officer who began their career in policing as an auxiliary police officer.”

Her own current job description  operational support division-court services unit-court security  is a paid “part-time casual” position, she adds.

“Prior to the onset of COVID, I was based solely out the the Barrie courthouse at 75 Mulcaster St., where I worked as security, vetting persons coming in the front door from a security standpoint,” McBride says. “When (the pandemic) struck, the courthouse moved many of its matters to Zoom/virtual courts and the amount of public access and in-custody’s went down to virtually less than a dozen persons per day.”

She was then redeployed to police headquarters to solely co-ordinate and execute out-of-custody and in-custody DNA orders. As one of the senior DNA officers at courts, she executed DNA judge’s orders upon sentencing during custody matters.

Her auxiliary training has also involved her in some interesting events  some small, others not so much  over the years.

“In 2010, I was chosen, alongside several of my other court officers, to attend and work the cell block with Toronto police special constables for the G20 Summit in Toronto,” says McBride. “As we know now in retrospect, this turned out to be a very complex and controversial time in Canada’s political and policing history. For myself, it was a welcomed and eye-opening experience.”

Her life of giving back has also included a stint with Georgian Bay Volunteer Search and Rescue (2010 to 2017) and she is currently a member of Volunteer Corps Ontario.

When the Barrie resident of 45 years set out on her volunteer policing journey back in 2005, she says she had no idea where it would take her or how it would impact her community.

“I have taken part in so many events over the years: assisting with R.I.D.E. programs, directing traffic for annual military parades, Remembrance Day ceremonies, or worthy community charitable events like the Rotary Fun Run, CIBC Run for the Cure, Special Olympics Torch Run, or social awareness events like the Gay Pride parade, Out of the Cold, Take Back the Night, to name a few," McBride says. "Or there are the simple, educational events for children in the schools to teach them about the impact of using drugs.

“I have assisted with missing person searches, canvassed the public for information, secured crime scenes alongside regular officers, spent a summer doing some shifts with the marine unit on Kempenfelt Bay and put in thousands of hours of ride-a-longs with regular officers all across the city,” she adds.

More recently, she assisted with securing neighbourhood areas and directing and rerouting contractors and traffic in Barrie’s southeast end after the devastating tornado last summer.

“I can only think that with many budgets and resources — both equipment and personnel  stretched in all segments of business in Barrie and policing through COVID, that those of us involved with volunteering, whether it be in policing or anywhere else, do indeed make Barrie a better place," McBride says. 

“Not only do we in the auxiliary provide much needed support, but our invaluable training makes us worthy candidates who can provide an added layer of protection and service within our growing community.”

People who give of themselves get something back, McBride says. 

“Volunteering is a selfless act that sometimes has a way of putting things into perspective with so many aspects of life nowadays,” she adds. “Sometimes it’s nice to simply contribute without expectation and motive.”