Police chief ready to move on to new challenge

Weyburn police chief Marlo Pritchard will wrap up his time as the city’s top cop on Friday, and will begin his new position on Monday, Sept. 23, as president of the Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency.

“I have absolutely loved it,” he said of his seven and a half years in Weyburn. “It has been a challenge at times. I have worked with some of the finest men and women in uniform, and I’ve worked with many men and women in uniform from around the world. The dedication they have shown men in serving the community has amazed me.”

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Serving as police chief has been a great opportunity for him, he said, coming through both good times and hard times in the years he’s administered the police department.

Pritchard said he isn’t leaving Weyburn for any negative reason, but he feels he’s reached the point where he wants to move on to a new opportunity.

“It’s time. It’s time to allow someone else to have a turn with this organization and move it forward. Leadership is situational, and we’ve got some very good police officers,” said the chief.

Asked if he has achieved all the goals he wanted to in his time as police chief, Pritchard replied, “Most of them. You’re never finished, you never get it all done. There were a couple of goals I really wanted to accomplish. We started a number of initiatives, such as going on social media, our carbine program, and we’ve increase our IT capability.”

One of the biggest accomplishments in his mind was the establishment of the regional HUB, which works with the Estevan Police Service and community and government agencies and ministries to help people who need assistance rather than a jail term.

“It was one of the first in Canada. The Weyburn-Estevan HB model has been referred to by police agencies outside of Saskatchewan,” said Pritchard.

Asked what he is most proud of from his time as police chief, he said, “If there’s anything I’m proud of, I’m proud of this organization and the work they do every day. One thing that we’ve accomplished is to increase public safety.”

There have been a number of changes in personnel in the police department with long-time officers retiring and new constables coming on the force, and he was happy to help pass on some of his knowledge and experience to the new officers.

As for his new provincial position, he pointed out he wasn’t really looking for another job, but it was an opportunity that came up at a good time, and he put his name in for consideration.

“This is just an extension, another aspect of me having the opportunity to give back to the community, except now my community is all of Saskatchewan,” said Pritchard.

The Public Safety Agency is a Treasury Board Crown that reports to a board of directors, and is overseen by four cabinet ministers, including Weyburn-Big Muddy MLA Dustin Duncan in his portfolio as Environment Minister.

“The organization is designed to help communities through disasters, to deal with both man-made and natural disasters. First responders are still going to be the first ones on a scene, but if they need help, that’s where we come in,” said Pritchard, adding that forest fire suppression in Northern Saskatchewan has also been added to the list of responsibilities of the agency.

He admits it will be a steep learning curve for him as there will be many new responsibilities, but he pointed out some of the skills and lessons he learned as Weyburn’s police chief will be transferable to his new position. He noted he had never been a police chief before coming here, although he had been a senior officer in the Regina Police Service.

One principle that will be true in his new job is one that applied to his position as police chief. “This is team approach in emergency response. “I’ve had great people who’ve supported me at the board and community level. It’s not me doing it, it about us doing it, and you capitalize on the strengths of the people around you.”

He said this has been true for him the seven years and eight months he’s been chief of police here. “It’s all about dealing with people, how you deal with people and how you communicate with people.”