As he sits behind his office desk, the Mission RCMP Detachment’s new officer in charge, Inspector Stephen Corp, smiles, leans forward and begins to explain what his priorities are for battling crime in the community.
“Everything is a priority to me,” he said. He then leaned back into his chair and began to expand on his answer.
Corp has only been in Mission for a month and in that time he has been busy meeting with community groups, charitable organizations, local politicians, business people and the public in general.
He said if you ask three different people what the biggest problem in Mission is, it’s possible to get three different answers.
While he hasn’t been in Mission long enough to establish a firm set of priorities, some issues are clear.
“Property crime is huge. People work hard for what they have and they don’t want it taken away.
“Homelessness, while not being a crime, does affect a community significantly. Homelessness and the symptoms of homelessness and how they affect community safety is a priority,” Corp said, adding people want to be safe in their homes, proud of their community and they want to be able to go out freely to do what they want to do.
“And that’s what I’m here to make sure happens.”
Traffic safety is another priority for Corp.
“If you’ve ever lived in a community where fatalities occur, it can have a devastating impact on a community … I know Mission has issues with traffic safety.”
He wants to bring in new ways to make Mission a safer community for motorists and pedestrians and is hoping to make some announcements in the near future.
However, there is one priority that will never change for Corp.
“My priority is to deliver an effective, motivated, highly-trained, well-equipped and sensitive police service delivery to the citizens of Mission. They pay for it and I’m going to deliver it.”
Born and raised in Peterborough, Ont., Corp began working in the sales department at several different media outlets.
His career path changed drastically when he decided to relocate to Inuvik, in the Northwest Territories.
He went there to find a new job and get a fresh start. Coincidentally, he had an uncle living in the area. His uncle was a Corporal with the RCMP.
“He was the first relative in my family to ever join the RCMP.”
Corp quickly became interested in becoming an RCMP officer and was sworn in, in Inuvik, before heading to Saskatchewan for training in 1990.
He spent the first three years of his new career posted in Fort St. John, B.C.
“That’s were I learned to be a police officer.”
He then began a series of transfers and new positions that took him all over the province.
He first went to Surrey for a year of general duty before he moved on to the Surrey drug section.
“That’s where I learned a new style of policing, typically what people call undercover, but we call plainclothes.”
After that he was stationed in Ucluelet on Vancouver Island, Corp was promoted to corporal in Maple Ridge, then transferred to Chilliwack.
He then became a sergeant in Dawson Creek.
His B.C. run ended when he transferred to New Market, Ont. as a sergeant team leader in charge of a federal drug section,
“It was very exciting work. We dealt with importation and exportation of very large quantities of drugs involving organized crime groups.”
But B.C. came calling again and he transfered back to Kitimat as a staff sergent in charge of the detachment. He called it the best job he has had as a police officer.
“It taught me what I really enjoy and that is building a team and having that team go out and make a difference in the community they are working in.
“The nice thing about being the boss isn’t that you’re the boss, it’s that you lose the right to complain about things you don’t like and you become the person who, good or bad, is responsible for those things… and it’s within your power to change those things.”
Having moved his wife and four children eight times, Corp decided he needed a break and wanted to return to the Fraser Valley.
“Being from Ontario and having moved all over B.C. we settled on the Fraser Valley as where we wanted to call home.”
He transferred back to Chilliwack, then was promoted to inspector and went to the RCMP head office in Surrey.
Now he’s in Mission.
When he heard that Insp. Annette Fellner was leaving and the Mission job was available, he knew immediately that he wanted it.
“It allowed me to go back to my passion (like Kitimat) which is being the policing leader and effecting positive change.”
It also kept him in the Fraser Valley. He was also familiar with the area, having been in neighbouring communities.
Corp said it felt like a perfect fit and an opportunity that he didn’t want to miss out on. It also helped that he has a grandson who lives in Mission.
As the new officer in charge, Corp said he believes that “for a police service to be effective, they have to reflect the community they are serving.
“I have to make sure that the group that I have in the building is meeting the needs of the community.”
As for the community itself, Corp said the people have been welcoming and he has already learned a lot.
“I have to say, I have been struck at my core by a couple of things about Mission… I have never in my career seen the level of community engagement that I see in Mission. The willingness to get out and actually do something. It’s amazing.”