Compared to the past few years, coming to Port Alberni should be a breeze for newly appointed RCMP Inspector Jim Martin.
Martin, 44, is expected to join the Alberni detachment in April or May as its new commander. He replaces former Inspector Gord Wellar, who retired in November after serving as detachment commander for six years, and with the RCMP for 36 years.
Martin, a 22-year RCMP veteran is coming from the Spruce Grove-Stony Plain RCMP detachment in Alberta.
It will be a challenge to assume an officer in charge position in Alberni, but Martin has already been tempered by an unimaginable challenge.
He was the acting detachment commander when four RCMP officers were shot to death at a farm in Mayerthorpe, Alta. in 2005.
The four officers were executing a search warrant Martin had secured for the property when they were killed. The suspect, James Roszko, who was wounded in a shootout with another officer, turned the gun on himself.
Martin would have been with the officers but was delayed by paperwork at his office and was enroute five minutes later when calls about the shooting came over the radio. He arrived to find his men dead.
Martin recalls the selflessness shown by fellow RCMP officers who arrived on the scene not knowing that Roszko was already dead.
“The suspect was heavily armed and four of my men were already dead, yet everyone who arrived on the scene put themselves in harm’s way to set up a perimeter around the scene,” Martin said.
“It was the worst day of my professional life, but after seeing that selflessness it was also the greatest day at the same time.”
Martin was interviewed by a municipal-aboriginal hiring board in Port Alberni in January and was notified of his successful application on Feb. 8.
The appointment is Martin’s first commission, and coming to the Island is actually a homecoming.
“I’m originally from Vancouver Island and grew up in Nanaimo so this is coming back for us,” the married father of four said.
Martin isn’t unfamiliar with Alberni. He spent his summers at Sproat Lake on the family’s lot at Tall Timbers.
Spruce Grove and Alberni are similar in that both are cities with extensive rural areas and large aboriginal populations. Presently, Martin works closely with the Enoch and Paul Band First Nations.
An avid outdoorsman, Martin looks forward to skiing on Mount Washington, as well as fishing, boating and hiking in the area.
“I live where it’s -40 Celsius and there’s lots of snow,” Martin said. “It will be nice to live on the Island and do stuff outside 365 days a year.”