Haliburton Highlands new staff sergeant expanding community web
By Angela Long
July 19, 2016
He’s braved the rains to celebrate Canada Day in Minden, and cast a line for Kids and Cops and Canadian Tire Fishing Days. Staff Sergeant Richard Riopelle, the new detachment commander for the Haliburton Highlands OPP, isn’t wasting any time doing what he says is one of the most important duties of an officer – becoming involved in the community.
On July 15, two weeks from the day Riopelle reported for duty at the Minden detachment, he met with the community’s media outlets for a meet and greet.
Media relations officer Const. Tim Negus introduced Riopelle.
“It’s a breath of fresh air to have staff living in the area,” he said.
Riopelle is no stranger to the Haliburton Highlands. He grew up in a small town just two hours east of Haliburton. It was there his career path became clear.
“I’ve always wanted to become a police officer,” he said.
After a stint with the Canada Border Services Agency, Riopelle joined the OPP. For the past 17 years, he has served from the streets of southwestern Ontario’s Essex County to the northwestern Sioux Lookout. In 2012, he was promoted to staff sergeant of East Algoma.
In a recent press release, Riopelle stated, “My entire family and I are looking forward to our future with the Haliburton Highlands Detachment members and the opportunity to live within and be part of such a beautiful and close community.”
At the meet and greet, Riopelle expanded on this sentiment.
“This is a place we sought out as a family,” he said.
It’s a place where he can go snowmobiling or ATVing (“I’m an outdoors person,” he said), a place close enough to universities where his triplet daughters can attend. It’s a place where his family is building a home, a home they hope will become permanent.
Riopelle’s experiences serving from cities to remote communities have given him a “broad perspective,” he said, and a knowledge of “all aspects of front-line policing.” He hopes to apply this knowledge to Haliburton County, creating a more collaborative approach to policing through initiatives to engage with both the media and citizens in an environment “as transparent as possible.”
“We need each other,” he said.
Riopelle views policing as part of a much bigger web of community services. Hospitals, firefighters, the media – all are part of “essential human services” with the same interests at heart.
“Our community needs us to work together to provide those essential human services” Riopelle said, planning to get off on the right foot and start building strong working relationships.
The meet and greet, which included refreshments and a tour of the police station, was one step in that direction.