For Yukon RCMP’s new commanding officer, a lot has changed in 40 years

It’s been 40 years since Scott Sheppard walked down Main Street. Things have changed: new shops have appeared, some have gone out of business.

It’s been 40 years since Scott Sheppard walked down Main Street.

Things have changed: new shops have appeared, some have gone out of business.

Yesterday the Yukon government announced Sheppard was the new Yukon RCMP commanding officer, replacing Superintendent Peter Clark.

Sheppard is fresh off the plane — he’s been back in the Yukon for nine days — but is already feeling the nostalgia of his younger days living in Whitehorse.

“I have nothing but fond memories of my time up here,” he said.

But for him the sense of community he felt back in the mid-1970s hasn’t changed.

“Whitehorse is unique in a sense that it’s an eclectic arrangement of artists, industrial people, business, First Nation (people),” he said.

During his career with the RCMP, Sheppard has held various roles, from undercover work infiltrating drug syndicates to overseeing the security of the 2010 Vancouver Olympic games and training Canadian Forces in Afghanistan on counterinsurgency techniques.

He says he is already looking forward to working with the local RCMP officers.

“We have a great bunch of folks,” he said. “It’s my responsibility to make sure they’re properly supported and they have the tools and resources they need to do the job the community expects them to do.”

And those resources can be sorely needed, as shown when an RCMP officer assaulted a man, who had threatened the officer’s wife, in Carcross last year. The officer, who is now almost done with his probation term, told the court about the stress he was under and the difficult situation of living in the community he policed.

“It’s a 24-hour job for some of our members,” Sheppard said. “In the Yukon, perhaps it’s unique to the northern territories, we ask a lot more of our RCMP members than what we expect in larger areas like Kelowna or Surrey.”

On top of the law and order side of things, members often volunteer in the community, Sheppard said, from building ice rinks to coaching youth sports.

Sheppard himself started out working in a small First Nation community in Manitoba.

On the resource side, he recognized M Division could use more staff.

“In Whitehorse, the men and women, as well as people working out of this building, are run off their feet,” he said. “They’re very busy.”

He also noted that front-line officers deal with a wide range of social issues.

“It’s already been my observation that we’re involved in activities that might be better addressed by other agencies,” he said.

“My predecessor said we spend a lot of time bringing people into custody who are not criminals,” Sheppard said. “But we are the last stop. Is that the best use of police resources?”

Ultimately, the Yukon RCMP follows directions and goals the Yukon Department of Justice sets, he said.

Throughout the interview, Sheppard insisted he wants front-line officers to know they have his support.

“Anything we can do to make their job more efficient and more effective (we will do),” he said.

He also lauded the RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson for his efforts pushing for better mental health care among members.

“It’s not a question of weakness, it’s not a question of this person is having a problem and this person is healthy,” said Sheppard. “It’s a question of finding people the right resources to deal with the issues they’re having.”

Sheppard arrives six years after the RCMP began working to rebuild its relationship with the community.

When Superintendent Peter Clark became the territory’s top cop in 2010, the relationship between the RCMP and the community was at a low point, following two major police scandals.

Sheppard said he will work to follow the principles set out in Sharing Common Ground, the 2010 report aimed to address issues between the force and the community.

“I plan to uphold the guidance and principles spelled out in (the report) but I would also like to think we’re at this point in time, we can look forward, build on it,” he said.

Sheppard, who is also an avid skier and outdoor enthusiast — before he joined the RCMP he studied caribou and wolves in northern B.C. — is excited to enjoy the Yukon’s wilderness.

“I love skiing and I already have a few invitations from some of the elders from the communities to visit with them,” he said.

“I’m very much looking forward (to it).”

With files from Maura Forrest

Contact Pierre Chauvin at pierre.chauvin@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Diane McLeod-McKay, Yukon’s Ombudsman and information and privacy commissioner, filed a petition on Dec. 11 after her office was barred from accessing documents related to a child and family services case. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon government rejects Ombudsman requests for documentation filed to Supreme Court

Diane McLeod-McKay filed a petition on Dec. 11 after requests for documents were barred

Buffalo Sabres center Dylan Cozens, left, celebrates his first NHL goal with defenceman Rasmus Ristolainen during the second period of a game against the Washington Capitals on Jan. 22 in Washington. (Nick Wass/AP)
Cozens notches first NHL goal in loss to Capitals

The Yukoner potted his first tally at 10:43 of the second period on Jan. 22

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker in an undated photo from social media. The couple has been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Former CEO of Great Canadian Gaming, actress charged after flying to Beaver Creek for COVID-19 vaccine

Rod Baker and Ekaterina Baker were charged with two CEMA violations each

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Are they coming?

One of COVID-19’s big economic questions is whether it will prompt a… Continue reading

Yukon MP Larry Bagnell, along with Yukon health and education delegates, announce a new medical research initiative via a Zoom conference on Jan. 21. (Screen shot)
New medical research unit at Yukon University launched

The SPOR SUPPORT Unit will implement patient-first research practices

The bus stop at the corner of Industrial and Jasper Road in Whitehorse on Jan. 25. The stop will be moved approximately 80 metres closer to Quartz Road. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
UPDATED: Industrial Road bus stop to be relocated

The city has postponed the move indefinitely

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment in Faro photgraphed in 2016. Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old building currently accommodating officers. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Faro RCMP tagged for new detachment

Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old… Continue reading

In a Jan. 18 announcement, the Yukon government said the shingles vaccine is now being publicly funded for Yukoners between age 65 and 70, while the HPV vaccine program has been expanded to all Yukoners up to and including age 26. (1213rf.com)
Changes made to shingles, HPV vaccine programs

Pharmacists in the Yukon can now provide the shingles vaccine and the… Continue reading

Parking attendant Const. Ouellet puts a parking ticket on the windshield of a vehicle in downtown Whitehorse on Dec. 6, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is hoping to write of nearly $300,000 in outstanding fees, bylaw fines and court fees, $20,225 of which is attributed to parking fines issued to non-Yukon license plates. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City of Whitehorse could write off nearly $300,000

The City of Whitehorse could write off $294,345 in outstanding fees, bylaw… Continue reading

Grants available to address gender-based violence

Organizations could receive up to $200,000

In this illustration, artist-journalist Charles Fripp reveals the human side of tragedy on the Stikine trail to the Klondike in 1898. A man chases his partner around the tent with an axe, while a third man follows, attempting to intervene. (The Daily Graphic/July 27, 1898)
History Hunter: Charles Fripp — gold rush artist

The Alaskan coastal town of Wrangell was ill-equipped for the tide of… Continue reading

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. While Whitehorse Mayor Dan Curtis is now setting his sights on the upcoming territorial election, other members of council are still pondering their election plans for the coming year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Councillors undecided on election plans

Municipal vote set for Oct. 21

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decicions made by Whitehorse city council this week.

Most Read