Ever since Ben Hayley was a kid, he’s wanted to become a police officer.
And this summer, the 19-year-old is getting a taste of what it actually takes to serve and protect.
“I always wanted to do it basically because it’s something different every day, you’re not doing the same stuff,” said Hayley. “It’s not like an office job.”
Hayley recently completed his first year of post secondary, and is planning to go to MUN in the fall to do a physical education degree, but for eight weeks this summer, he’s working with the Grand Falls-Windsor District RCMP as a summer student. The position is part of a youth employment partnership between the RCMP and the Newfoundland and Labrador Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation Band.
Hayley said he first heard about the position last summer, but at 18 he was too young to apply – this year, however, he submitted his application right away.
“I only found out about my (aboriginal roots) a few years back, and I got my status about a year ago,” he said.
Hayley is about halfway through his term of employment with the RCMP, and already he’s gotten to experience a variety of activities that have shown him what life in uniform is like; from getting to hang out with members all day at the Salmon Festival earlier this month, to observing a taser training exercise – something he called a highlight.
“The taser training was pretty cool, they had realistic acting and stuff,” said Hayley. “It looked like a real like situation because the actors doing it and the guys teaching it were really good.”
Because he isn’t actually a member with training, Hayley is limited in what he can do on the law enforcement side of being an officer, but has become an asset at the station when it comes to his involvement in community police work.
“We have to be careful not to put him in a situation where he could be observed as a police officer, or become a potential witness,” said Hayleys supervisor, RCMP Community Policing liaison Donna Ducey. “The guys want to take him along, but he can’t go to operational calls – he has to be careful he’s not at risk.”
But that hasn’t phased Hayley one bit; he said he really enjoys the community aspect of policing.
Some of the things he’s been involved with throughout the course of the summer are accompanying Ducey to meetings with various community groups, doing fingerprinting for children at events, and helping out with a children’s bike safety rodeo.
“The bicycle rodeo is basically an obstacle course laid out to test the children’s ability for the bike they’re riding,” explained Hayley. “I enjoyed that a lot, I really like working with kids.”
Hayley said during the remainder of the summer he’d like to be involved with few more bike rodeos, he will also be participating in a cabin identification and a bicycle engraving program for kids.
According to Ducey, the cabin identification program means when the service is requested, Hayley will go to residents’ cabins and sheds and catalogue belongings and serial numbers. That way, in the case of a break in and theft, the owner can positively identify their items. The bike engraving program serves a similar purpose for children in the case their bicycle is lost or stolen.
Hayley will also be helping out the Corduroy Brook Trail Association by being visible on the trail system in coming weeks.
“(They) just want me to keep an eye out for people, for example, if you’re walking a dog without a leash. You may think your dog is harmless, but there’s a lot of people that don’t walk the trails because they’re afraid of dogs. That’s taking support away from the trails, which isn’t good.”
Hayley said even though there are signs around the trail system, sometimes they’re ignored, so he’ll be keeping an eye out for people not following the rules.
Ducey also said she’s working with some community members on starting a neighborhood watch, something Hayley will help out with if it comes to fruition before the position ends.
Even after several weeks of seeing what is required of RCMP officers, Hayley is sure he still wants to join the force, and said he’s been preparing for it for much of his life.
“You have to prepare physically and mentally. You’ve got to keep on track with school. Something huge they look for with being an RCMP officer too is life experience,” said Hayley. “There’s no better way to get life experience than to volunteer, and I’ve learned so much from volunteering around the community.”
Hayley, who is an avid volunteer with university-quality grades, has also kept himself in tip-top physical shape – something he knows is important when becoming an RCMP officer. He recently returned from running the Tely 10 marathon, and has been working toward raising $20,000 for the Children’s Wish Foundation by running in the Toronto Scotiabank Waterfront Marathon this fall.
While Hayley plans to return to school in the fall and hopes to complete his degree, he said he’ll be applying to become an RCMP officer as soon as possible.
“This has been a great learning experience. It shows me exactly what goes on with the RCMP,” he said. “This is something I’d really like to do.”
He added that as far as summer jobs go, this one has been the coolest.
If anyone in the region would like to contact Hayley to avail of the cabin identification or bicycle engraving program, he can be reached at the station at 489-2121.