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Community engagement will be a priority for Bracebridge OPP’s new detachment commander

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The Bracebridge OPP’s new detachment commander says he will continue with a community-first approach to policing.

“I don’t know there are many officers who signed up all those years ago with the intention of becoming a detachment commander, but as your career unfolds and you get to that point in your career and your decision-making process, you make certain decisions,” says Jason Nickle, who was officially named detachment commander on April 9. “Ultimately, I had no intention of ever getting to his rank, but now that I’m here it’s an absolute honour to be able to lead the officers of this detachment and be able to serve the public in this capacity.”

He took over from Insp. Mike Burton, who retired in Feb., making way for Nickle to serve as interim detachment commander while the force looked for a permanent body to take on the position. The search took around two months, ending with Nickle taking on the role.

“I want to make this a place people want to come,” Nickle says. “I want to make this a place where the officers want to do good work for the community.”

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Nickle says that will involve taking a “three-pillar approach” to policing. Two of the pillars, criminal investigations and traffic enforcement, are data-based, but the third, community engagement, isn’t. 

“I want to see my officers out in the public,” he says. “I want to see them out of the cruisers, I want to see them walking downtown, I want to see them engaging with the kids playing ball in the park. I really think it’s important for me to rebrand our image, if you will, ensuring members of the public are aware our officers are also members of the community.”

An initial focus for Nickle will be making Hwy. 11 and 400 safer. “I’ve really found it can be a lot like a raceway on Hwy. 11,” he says, noting he still commutes from his home in Victoria Harbour as he tries to find a home in Muskoka.

“One of my primary mandates is breaking down some of the barriers that have existed in the past,” Nickle says.

While he says communication with the Huntsville OPP detachment is good, he wants to expand on it. Nickle says he plans to work on expanding the shared resources agreement between the two detachments, notably with the marine patrol and joint traffic units. 

“There are changes that need to be made, absolutely, but I don’t necessarily want to come in and crack the whip, so to speak,” Nickle says. He wants to take a collaborative approach with officers on how to move forward. “I know that in the past couple of years there have been some significant incidents involving members of the public that have given perhaps a bit of a misinterpretation about what we do at this detachment,” Nickle adds. 

“Every person in this building does great work, and I really want to focus on that and shift that to a more humanistic approach,” Nickle says.

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