More than 25 years ago Carmel Keenan reported for her first shift of work at the New Westminster Police Department.
She has had the opportunity to work in many posts during the course of her career. The most memorable being her five years in Traffic Patrol as the first female Motorcycle Officer in the history of the New Westminster Police Department and her last three years as the School Liaison Officer in elementary and middle schools. Keenan seemed to have found her niche in the unique role of working with students, staff and parents.
On September 30 she is retiring from the New Westminster Police Department.
When asked about what inspired her to a career in policing Keenan gets nostalgic about high school days. “There was an RCMP Officer who helped with my basketball team. He talked about his work, and I wanted to know more. I was lucky enough to go on an RCMP ride along and I could see myself in that kind of an environment.”
Keenan, who grew up in Maple Ridge, has had a long career in New Westminster. She has seen both the city and the department go through significant changes. “There were only two other female Constables when I started here. The department was a little old fashioned and a little bit of an old boys club,” Keenan said, as she packed up her desk. “The city was a different place back then too,” she added, “New Westminster was a little rough around the edges.”
When the job of School Liaison Officer became available she didn’t hesitate to apply. Not only did Keenan love working with kids, but she knew that the best way to fight crime was to invest in kids. The youngest kids call Keenan by her nickname, Candy.
I met with Keenan two days before her retirement to talk about her career and what plans she has for her retirement.
Q: What does a School Liaison Officer do?
A: Play! (laughs) Well it’s more than that. I listen to the students, and by forming relationships with the students I show them that police can be trusted. I hope to impress upon them that the job of all police is to keep them safe.
Q: If you had any parting advice to the parents and kids at those schools what would it be?
A: To lead by example.
Q: And any advice for Constable Gerald Lau and Constable Tim Callaghan who will be taking over the job?
A: Enjoy it! It is what you make it.
Q: What are some of your proudest moments?
A: At the age of 42 I completed my Motorcycle Officer course. During the course I repeatedly dropped and picked up a 850 pound motorcycle. I could barely lift my arms above my waist I was so sore. My second proudest moment will be when I retire here on Wednesday and walk out of here a free woman. When I can just be a chick.
Q: How do you lift an 850 pound motorcycle?
A: It’s all technique.
Q: How does it feel to be the first female Motorcycle Officer in this department?
A: Absolutely phenomenal! Chief Dave Jones was one of my supporters from the very beginning.
Q: What will you miss most?
A: The people. There are some independent thinkers here that I respect tremendously.
Q: What are your plans for retirement?
A: Sleep! (laughs) Sleep, teach and enjoy my freedom. I will be teaching at the Justice Institute of British Columbia. My favorite classes to teach are Introduction to Criminal Law and Testifying in Legal Proceedings.
If you want to pass along well wishes to Carmel Keenan – perhaps you remember her you’re your school? Tweet them to us or send a note via Facebook – we’ll make sure she receives your congratulations.
The New Westminster Police Department wishes Carmel Keenan happiness, success and good health as she begins her new adventure!