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Kelowna's new top cop offering new approach after past controversies

Kelowna's top cop Supt. Kara Triance is pictured in this undated photo.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / RCMP

For everything from apparent acts of brutality to allegations of sexual assault, a dubious record on investigating rape complaints and a high ranking in the Maclean's recent crime report, Kelowna's RCMP detachment has had a run of bad news in the last year.

Some of these incidents even prompted rallies of support for alleged victims.  

Throughout, Kelowna's top cop seemed circumspect but this week there was a change at the detachment.

Supt. Kara Triance — the city's first woman top cop — was only five days into her new gig when she made the unusual gesture to meet with reporters from around the city for a day of one-on-one interviews.

Armed with notes about key talking points, she was clearly ready to be questioned about the seemingly troubled detachment, repeatedly noting that only five days in, she's not an expert on what makes the Kelowna detachment tick, just yet. She also signalled that it was just the first of many conversations to come.

It's indicative of policing philosophies she hopes will lead the detachment forward.

These last months, she said, have weighed heavily on this city's RCMP officers, who she described as "hardworking, really great employees."

"These police officers are all people who care deeply about policing services for their community. And when our police officers are faced with these sorts of challenges that they've been faced with over the last six months — I mean internationally we've been faced with public scrutiny on policing and how we show up as police officers to do our job — these things weigh deeply on (them)," she said.

Going forward, Triance said her aim is to ensure local RCMP officers feel supported by leadership and in the work that they're doing and that means training, among other things. As she takes the helm, she will let local officers "know exactly where the goalposts are, that they know what the expectations are of them."

"(They will) know where we're going and how we're going to get there. And that we do that together," she said. "It's really important for me, that our police officers know that they have a police leader who is not only going to get out in front of this storm with them. But walk through this, so that we can meaningfully move forward."

The interviews on Tuesday are also a signal to the greater community about the relationship she wants to have with them.

"How I show up for these conversations, for conversations within our community, for partnerships and that I show the way that I do my job, will give the public confidence in who I am as a police leader," she said.

Triance is readying herself to emerge as a strong voice on issues facing this community and it's likely that voice will be different than those who have gone before her, in part, because she's a woman in a leadership position at an institution known for its sexism. 

She's loath to speak on behalf of all women in the RCMP, she said, adding that each experience is unique.

"I've worked with some incredible men who are supportive of women in the RCMP and women in policing," she said. "And while there have been significant heartfelt challenges that have been really real, there are also a lot of great employees who are up there, working hard to make sure that we are diverse and inclusive as a police force."

And all of that, plus her experience in leadership roles, informs how she does her job.

"My experience, my femininity, my priorities — all of those shape how we turn out as police officers here but also how this detachment runs, and I was selected for those reasons," she said. "I'm going to bring to the job the passion and the enthusiasm and the integrity and accountability and the firm fair clear manner in which I run a police station."

To contact a reporter for this story, email Kathy Michaels or call 250-718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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