Sitting behind her desk, in her new office at the Mission RCMP building, Insp. Annette Fellner appears at ease in her new position as Officer in Charge of the local detachment.
She began her new role two weeks ago and has already been meeting with members of the community to better understand what they feel the top issues and priorities should be.
A 22-year veteran of the RCMP, Fellner’s interest in policing dates back to her childhood.
Born and raised in Regina, Sask. Fellner was introduced to policing at an early age as her mother worked for the RCMP for more than 30 years. She spent a great deal of time at the RCMP training academy, where her mother was employed.
“I spent many years watching all the parades and all the members graduate through there. So that was kind of the thing that started me on my career with the RCMP,” explained Fellner, adding that there is more to it than “Mounties riding on horses but you see that as a little kid and get pretty fascinated with all of that. My love for the organization grew from that.”
She quickly learned there were more challenges than riding a horse in a red serge.
Her first posting sent Fellner from her hometown to Surrey where she worked for nine years before being re-assigned back to Saskatchewan.
For the next four years she worked at the RCMP training academy, that she was so familiar with from her childhood.
From there, Fellner transferred to Manitoba, working both in the city and outside of the city of Winnipeg in various federal policing roles. She has a background in financial crime, proceeds of crime investigations and became the detachment commander for several communities outside of Winnipeg.
From there, she transfered back to B.C. and became one of the regional duty officers out of the Lower Mainland district in Surrey, which was responsible for monitoring operations throughout the Lower Mainland.
In 2015 she was commissioned to an inspector, continuing to work in the Surrey office.
“Now I have arrived here, today in my new role.”
Her arrival in Mission is not an accident, in fact, Fellner said she has had an eye on the area for awhile.
She, and former Mission boss Insp. Ted de Jager, know each other, in fact, they started their careers together in Surrey.
Fellner said when she returned to B.C. she started looking at other opportunities and even spoke to de Jager about Mission. However, at the time, she had no idea how long de Jager was planning to stay in his position.
When the vacancy did come up, it took her “two seconds” to decide to apply.
“What was unique about Mission, in compared to other communities in the Lower Mainland, is just really the size of it and the opportunity, I feel, to do more in a smaller community versus some of the larger ones. So it was really the sense of community, which I’ve experienced greatly over the last two weeks.”
She also wanted to return to the role as a detachment commander, like she was in Manitoba. Fellner said it was “the most rewarding job” she has ever had.
“Obviously Mission is bigger than some of those small rural communities but you are bordered by Abbotsford and just the geographics of the Lower Mainland. You have large population bases that can be transient through your community and bring those problems, so there definitely are some challenges with the area we have to cover. That’s where it is important for us to look at and focus on some of the crime trends or where we see some of the activity occurring because we can’t be every where at once,” said Fellner.
She plans to ensure they are deploying the resources they do have in an efficient manner and are responding to the needs of the community.
“We can’t have a member on every corner and can’t alway predict where the calls are going to be, but we can use the intelligence, looking at previous history to effectively manage our resources.”
While she has already met with many community leaders and business owners, Fellner’s first major public appearance will be at Mission’s Canada day festivities on July 1 at Fraser River Heritage Park.
She will be on hand for the festivities and is encouraging people to come up and talk to her.
“I absolutely welcome people coming up and talking and asking questions. I won’t be offended by any of the questions people ask because it’s important for me, and I think that’s what’s important for the first couple of months, is for me to really understand the concerns of the community.”
She wants to understand the issues and priorities of the community and see what has been done and establish what is and isn’t working.