Journal: You officially took over the role of police chief in January, 2013, replacing Keith Atkinson who retired. Did he play a big role in helping you become the police chief that you are today?
Grant: I don’t want to say it was one particular chief because I think I learned something and got support from every chief I worked for. I sincerely mean that. I learned a lot from each chief that I worked for under this organization, some of whom I worked for a bit more closely as I went up the ranks. Certainly working very closely with Richard Bruce and Keith Atkinson – I learned a lot from working specifically with both of those people when they were chief and inspector. But I also learned a lot from former chief Dick Scott and former chief Brian Scott and even former chief Ken Elliott. He was the chief when I first started. There were things that I learned all the way through my career. I think they’ve all had an influence and an impact on me and by and large, all of them in their own way helped to show the path for me.
Journal: How’s the job working out for you? Enjoying your role as police chief?
Grant: It’s easy when you have a great staff and we do. That’s the key thing. Equally important is that we have a very supportive community that really supports what we’re trying to do. That’s key to me coming into the job. One of the keys I wanted to focus on when I took on this job was to try and enhance our visibility in the community and I think we’ve done a good job in trying to do that.
Journal: What are some of the projects you’ve been working on lately?
Grant: In early 2014, in working with the board, we sought public input as to what direction they wanted to see the police service going. It was part of our efforts in renewing our strategic plan. We also sought input within the members and employees of our organization as well on what their thoughts were. As a result of that, we were able to renew our strategic plan and direction for the next several years. The strategic plan is located on our website. That was a big effort and undertaking but very worthwhile.
Journal: From when you started to now, how have you evolved as police chief?
Grant: Well I think the unique challenge for me as police chief, unlike the chiefs from the past, is the fact that we’re now governed by the police board. That’s been a very important thing to try and get an understanding of and a grip on in terms of that reporting relationship between the chief and the board. Not to say that there’s no involvement or dealings with city administration. There certainly still is, so it’s important to work with the board but also equally important to work with other elements with the City of Brandon, which we’ve always done. That’s been an evolution and a change.
Journal: In February, members of the BPS shot and killed a wayward cow in the city after it escaped from a nearby vet clinic. Situations such as those certainly keep members of the department on their toes, don’t they?
Grant: We don’t have a lot of those situations thankfully. In that situation, we’re always going to err on the side of public safety. I think our members performed admirably to play wrangler with the cow. Regrettably in the end, we had to do what we had to do which was regrettable but there were no other options for us at the time. We don’t have a lot of those situations but they do crop up from time to time. We have some very experienced people here and people who know what exactly needs to be done in those types of situations in order to make sure that we’re keeping our officers safe but more importantly the public safe as well.
Journal: So, I have to ask: Is the forensic team at the BPS similar to those that perform forensic duties on the TV show CSI?
Grant: I’ve got to say we have a really dedicated and very smart group of people in our forensic identification unit. Unfortunately for those folks, they’re not under the same restrictions as the people on TV that actually have to solve the crime in an hour. Actually with commercials, it’s around 52 minutes. For them (BPS forensics), it takes a lot longer. It’s more painstaking than what you see on TV. It takes hours and hours of examination, of trying to find and gather evidence which may be as minuscule as something that fits on the top of your fingernail. To be able to collect it, document where it came from and of course, if you’re looking at things like DNA, the examination of that could take a considerable period of time in the lab. We don’t do that here. We have to send it away. So it could be months before we have the results from DNA analysis. Nonetheless, there are things and pieces of equipment that are on TV that might be somewhat similar to what our folks do. I’m sure they exercise some dramatic licence as to how they do it on TV.
Journal: Just how useful are service dogs with the Brandon Police Service?
Grant: I think they’re very useful for a number of reasons. They’re useful in terms of finding and tracking people who ran away from a crime scene, they’re very effective there. They’re also very effective when looking for a lost person or discarded evidence. They can be used for drug detection. There’s a lot of factors that influence how successful a dog will be. By and large, we have good success with our canine team, but they’re subject to environmental factors around them which is out of their control as to how successful they’ll be in the end. But we value them. I almost hate to say this, but sometimes they’re in the lead and out front and we know this and our handlers know this. The dogs are the first line of exposure, so unfortunately in their world, sometimes the dog itself is the first thing that someone would go after and attack because they’re sort of on the leading edge. We’ve had people that have probably taken swipes or kicks at our dogs. Fortunately for us, we’ve never lost a dog in action. Some police services have and it’s very tragic.