COFFEE BREAK: Civilian life new world for retired cop

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The Cornwall Standard Freeholder

Friday, March 29, 2013 8:34:45 EDT PM

By Claude McIntosh, Cornwall Standard Freeholder


Cornwall Community Police Service Staff Sergeant Garry Derochie.<br />
Submitted photo

Cornwall Community Police Service Staff Sergeant Garry Derochie. Submitted photo

Garry Derochie returned to civilian life on Friday, the day after retiring from the Cornwall Community Police Service.

Life as a civilian is a new game for him. The 64-year-old Cornwall native — he will turn 65 in September — hasn’t been a civilian since he was a teenager.

That’s when, at age 17, he joined the Royal Canadian Navy right out of high school, a career that took him to such exotic destinations as the Arctic Circle where, for awhile, he was squirreled away in an Alert, NWT, communications station tracking the Ruskies.

Alert is the most northernly inhabited place on the Earth, which meant you better get along with your co-workers.

His military stint (two years) was a hiccup compared to his next career path.

In 1970, fresh out of the pre-unification navy, he was sworn in as a Mississauga police officer and soon became a member of the Peel Regional Police force, which swallowed up Mississauga and several other municipal forces.

But, in 1976 the Cornwall Police Department came calling with the opportunity to return to his hometown, a move he has never regretted … “not for one minute.”

He has seen, as the saying goes, a lot of water flow under the bridge.

At least 79 of the force’s 135 members were not yet born when Derochie became a police officer, and until Thursday he was the oldest, longest-serving member of the force. The elder statesman torch has now been passed to Insp. Bob Burnie, 64, or as Burnie put it “to the new old fart.”

Upon hearing that so many members of the force were not yet born or were in diapers when he became a police officer, Derochie laughed, “Now that makes me feel real good.”

He is one of the few members of the force who can remember watching the Toronto Maple Leafs hoist the Stanley Cup.

Deputy Chief Danny Aikman called Derochie the consummate professional.

Aikman noted that every police chief since 1976 (Earl Landry, Claude Shaver, Carl Johnston, Tony Repa and Dan Parkinson) has turned to Derochie in times of crisis.

In a broadcast to the force, Aikman said, “Each of these leaders recognized Garry’s professionalism and his significant contributions to providing the best possible police service to the citizens of Cornwall.”

“Nobody has been more dedicated to the profession or more loyal to the organization,” said Aikman.

In 1984, Derochie was promoted to sergeant and just a few months later moved up the chain of command to staff sergeant. For a period he served as an acting inspector.

Of all the roles he played over the years, the most challenging was perhaps his last — officer in charge of professional standards.

Part of the job is dealing with complaints from the public about officers.

It’s a position that can put the professional standards officer on an island in a sea of blue.

Derochie, said Aikman, was effective at the job because he was able to deal with issues that crossed his desk in an equitable fashion.

In his four decades of policing, Derochie has seen tremendous changes. Most have enhanced policing in the community.

Others have made policing more demanding.

The Charter of Rights and Bail Reform Act have created a mountain of paperwork for today’s police officers. When Derochie became a police officer, an application for a search warrant was no more than a page or two. Today it can run a dozen or more pages.

One change has been the elimination of beat cops.

The beat cop, he noted, put officers more in touch with the public.

When he came to Cornwall, the force had three beats: Le Village, downtown and Pitt Street, from Fourth to Ninth. They were walked day and night, summer and winter.

A diehard Maple Leafs and Blue Jays fan, the retired staff sergeant hopes to be watching his Leafs play past April and the Jays swinging bats in October.

Between, he promises to use all the tools he has collected over the years and spend a lot of time in his garden.

Meanwhile, on Friday, as he put it, “I started a very, very long weekend.”

4 Responses to COFFEE BREAK: Civilian life new world for retired cop

  1. Sylvia says:

    Am I missing it? Does anyone see mention of the stellar role Staff Sgt. Derochie played at the $60 M Cornwall Public Inquiry?

    Does anyone see kudos for the great job Staff Sgt Derochie did in going after and discrediting Constable Perry Dunlop, with a vengeanace?

    I don’t see a word. Not a word on either.

    Perhaps Claude McIntosh has concluded that all of that was really nothing to be proud of? I don’t know, but I would certainly be right there to back him 100% were McIntosh to utter such sentiment.

    But, no, not a boo at all.

    Anyway, he’s now officially retired. And all I can say is that I honestly hope that retired Staff Sgt. Garry Derochie’s conscience bothers him in the coming years.

  2. He doesn’t have one, Sylvia. Just look at his picture! (I’m sure you still see him in dreams, along with Perry)
    He looks like Sylvester the Cat after eating Tweety Bird. Mike.

  3. Leona says:

    I trust that as many of the readers of this blog who know the story of the Cornwall Inquiry are now inundating The Cornwall Standard Freeholder with letters to the editor, online comments etc to set the record straight on this man’s storied career. If we are to make a dent in the legal system in this country we need to start spreading the word through all types of media and keeping the truth in the public eye.

  4. John MacDonald says:

    Not many references to the Standard Freeholder on the site so I chose this one to make a comment re: an ex-reporter for the Freeholder.
    Sean Silcoff won the National Business Book Award for his book “Losing The Signal” about the rise and fall of Blackberry. Congrats to Sean!!!

    John MacDonald

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