When one retires from one's career, it is a cause for celebration among family and friends. This was true for recently retired Airdrie RCMP Sgt. Jeff Campbell. His retirement send-off included another police officer, his older brother Cst. Derrick Campbell from the Calgary Police Service.
On May 9, Cst. Campbell arrived in Airdrie; unbeknownst to his younger brother. The Constable had planned to go for a ride-along with him.
"I rolled into the parking lot in the detachment and was just walking into the back of the office and ran into my Corporal. We're standing there talking and Derrick actually came around the corner," Sgt. Campbell said. "He was in full uniform, and it was announced that he was going to come ride with me. I was choked up."
While the two brothers have worn police officers' uniforms for decades, Sgt. Campbell said that the desire to join the RCMP began in grade school.
"Back in grade two, our teacher asked what we wanted to be when we grew up and I wrote down Mountie. That's always stuck with me; and when I was growing up playing hockey, all my hockey coaches were RCMP officers."
Cst. Campbell said that while his brother was dead set on becoming a mountie, his own career path was more of a winding road, though there is something to be said about choosing to become a police officer for a very simple purpose - to help people.
"[My career] took some different turns, but most of the careers were geared towards helping people in one fashion or another, and it just by circumstance turned to policing," Cst. Campbell said.
In his decades-long career, the Constable said there have been many impressionable moments, too many to enumerate on.
"In terms of the units; I've gone from child abuse [units] to family violence units, even school resource[s]. [To know] that you've made those little differences in changing people's lives and you hope you've been able to help them for the future," Cst. Campbell remarked.
Though Sgt. Campbell's lifelong dream was indeed realized when he joined the RCMP through the Aboriginal Cadet Development Program, as both brothers have a Métis background, he also served as a Calgary Police officer.
While being a mountie was the pinnacle of his career aspirations, wearing a uniform was something he has done since he was a youth, serving in the 604 Cadet Squadron in Calgary as well as being in the Canadian Armed Forces Reserve with the Calgary Highlanders.
The Airdrie RCMP detachment was the last stop of the Sgt.'s storied career, as he began his work in Prince George British Columbia in 1996. He would return to Calgary in 1999 and join CPS and would later go back to the RCMP. During his nearly 30 years serving as a police officer with the RCMP, he was posted in several different towns across the province including Westlock, Cochrane, and Lake Louise. He would also work for the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT).
"[With] my last posting in Airdrie - we work so closely with the Calgary Police Service because we border right on to it. There are really close collaborations with CPS."
However in all his years with both CPS and the RCMP, Sgt. Campbell did not have a chance to work shoulder-to-shoulder with his brother, making the ride along all the more significant.
"11 hours in a car - that's probably the longest we spent together in the car! It was great, we got a chance to help out on a few calls," Sgt. Campbell said. "Derrick - he's great to have along. I have always bugged him because he may be the older brother, but I'm the more senior police officer."
Though Sgt. Campbell no longer wears the RCMP uniform, he said that what popular culture says about policing is often exaggerated and not something that should be compared to the realities of policing.
"That's the thing - is getting Hollywood out of people's expectations of what policing is. The highly complex investigations, take months, even years to complete. The biggest part is that policing has always boiled down to community. Policing is basically looking after each other."
Cst. Campbell echoed his brother's statements, adding that sometimes the hardest part of police work, and the part that the public may not be privy to is the distinction between police work and the court system; while the two systems work in tandem, they are very separate from each other.
"The victims [you] are trying to help; these people through the justice system, and sometimes it doesn't work out to their expectations, and they're frustrated and that's the toughest part for me," he reflected.
While the ride-along was a chance for two brothers to catch up and enjoy each other's company, there was one very important detail that had to be looked into - which of the police officer's cruisers is tidier, or messier as the case may be.
Cst. Campbell conceded his brother's cruiser was pretty tidy, though, in a jesting fashion, he said that in his defence other police officers use the CPS cruiser, so the mess may not be all due to him. Nonetheless, Sgt. Campbell concluded that the ride-along with his sibling was one to remember.
"It was a really nice way to end the career."