To many of the people in Rimbey, Sgt. Mark Groves is more than just the guy behind the badge who has a friendly wave, a nice smile, a police truck and wears a gun.
He is their friend.
But, after six years here, (Groves says this is longest post ever), he is moving up and he is moving on.
Promoted to the rank of staff sergeant, Groves will take over the reins of the RCMP detachment at Rocky Mountain House.
As staff sergeant he will be in charge of 30 officers and eight office clerks. He will be responsible for the area including Rocky Mountain House, Nordegg and Caroline as well as the O’Chiese, Sunchild and Big Horn reserves.
For Groves, who considers Rimbey his home, the move is bittersweet.
“Obviously, I’m looking forward to the challenge. I love to hunt and fish and the area around Rocky is really good for that. As well, the promotion is nice.”
But as much as Groves is happy and excited about the new challenge, he admits it is difficult to leave his policing duties here. In fact, he and his wife Amy have decided to stay on their farm west of town and their two boys, McCoy, 12 and Garrett, 10, will continue to attend school in Rimbey.
“It’s a really nice community and a great place to raise kids,” he said.
When he first moved to Rimbey he said he felt a kinship to the town as it reminded him of High River, the town where he grew up.
He said the town and people in it totally met his expectations.
“I have made lifelong friends here. There are very good people here. Really, if the word got out about Rimbey, I think more families would move here.”
During his time here he has enjoyed working with organizations such as Rimbey FCSS, Rimbey Community Wellness, Gull Lake North Citizens on Patrol, Rural Crime Watch and Rimbey Fish and Game Association as well as the schools and business community.
He has also enjoyed writing the police report for the Review.
“I never can say some of the things I really want to say,” he said with a chuckle.
He recalled one incident in Rimbey where a drug dealer actually called the RCMP to complain that the cost of drugs was too high int his town.
He said to me, “What they’re charging for drugs is just criminal.”
Groves said he really enjoyed that phone call.
He added that even the very worst weeks as an RCMP officer was often made easier in Rimbey by random acts of kindness shown to the members.
“Somebody would drop off a pie at the detachment or simply give us a word of encouragement. Those acts are very special to me.”
Groves has been an RCMP officer for more than 20 years. His posts include the Calgary Police Service where he worked as an undercover officer in the drug section, Dawson City and the Yukon.
Being a police officer is an honorable profession and one that requires physical and mental stamina.
Mostly, Groves said it’s about being fair and helping people.
“That’s why we do it. To help and serve the community. That’s what it’s all about.”
Cpl. Carman Dutz will take over as acting sergeant after Groves leaves on July 13 until a replacement is hired.