As he retires this week after nearly 40 years on the job, Supt. Keith Robinson says he is satisfied with the direction Chilliwack and its downtown are headed.
Robinson, 60, has spent the last three-and-a-half years in charge of the Upper Fraser Valley Regional Detachment (UFVRD), which polices Hope, Harrison Hot Springs, Kent and Chilliwack. He'll work his last day as a Mountie on Friday and says he will leave proud of his accomplishments and looking forward to retirement.
"I've always said when it's time to retire, you go out for the right reasons at the right time," he told the Times Monday.
Since coming to the UFVRD in 2006, Robinson has seen the profile of Chilliwack change significantly. And he said he's been particularly pleased with the success of the detachment's crime reduction unit-which combines crime analysis, focus on hot spots and a prolific offender program.
While Chilliwack's downtown remains a hot topic among residents, Robinson is convinced that it's turned the corner.
"I've seen the downtown core of Chilliwack change drastically, all for the better so far, and I think it's going to get even better," he said. "The loss of the Empress Hotel and a couple of other derelict buildings, it's cleaned up the area so we don't have as much congregation of the people who like to cause the community grief."
Robinson continued: "We've been dealing with the prostitution problem in the downtown core fairly strongly, and that has moved them around and so you don't see as many.
"We do try to move them around and/or get them the help they require."
Asked about the current challenges in policing, Robinson said he's seen the public's esteem of the Mounties wax and wane over the years,
"This is one of the worst cycles, as far as scrutiny is concerned," he said. "People focus on the negative side of the house instead of all of the positives, and as a result you don't see all that's actually happening.
"If they look at the people who actually work within this organization, they still get into this organization for all those right reasons."
But Chilliwack, he said, has always been a good place to be an RCMP officer.
"People have been very good to me. The community is very supportive of the RCMP and very supportive to the members."
Robinson said he is also proud to have personally headed up a detachment, especially since he had set that as a goal when he began his policing career decades ago.
But now that his career is over, Robinson is looking forward to extensive travelling, spending time with his family and improving upon his woodworking skills.
Robinson will head to Arizona for a couple weeks in February. He'll continue living in Chilliwack but plans to journey farther afield, with an eye on the Netherlands, Russia and South America.
His successor has not yet been named. Whoever it is, Robinson said he or she will have to keep a focus on crime reduction strategies, maintain relationships between the various components of the regional detachment and deliver a good bang for the policing buck paid by the four municipalities the UFVRD serves.