Community Peace Officer heading to Westlock County

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Morinville Community Peace Officer Erik Nickolson poses with his vehicle last week, prior to his last day on Friday. Nickolson started a new job with Westlock County Oct. 1. – Stephen Dafoe photo

by Stephen Dafoe

Morinville – Community Peace Officer Erik Nickolson spent his last day on the job in Morinville on Friday. Nickolson, who started in Morinville on Jan. 1, 2011, has taken a position with Westlock County.

“I thought it was a good opportunity,” he said, adding he really likes Morinville and the people he has come to know. “I spent almost three years in a small town or municipality. Working in a county is something I’ve thought about. It’s a bigger area geographically, and it’s going to be a different experience all together.”

Nickolson said he will be the only peace officer working for the municipality and the new role will include more administrative work than he had with his position in Morinville. “It be a learning experience and I’ll be able to take what I’ve learned from here,” he said. “I’ll have to help build the program. Look where it’s at and see where I can make it better.”

The Community Peace Officer said his nearly three years in Morinville has been a great and rewarding experience that has allowed him to gain many skills. “Definitely when I reflect back and look at all the certificates that I’ve got, there is a lot of courses that I’ve taken,” he said, adding he has had to learn use of force, traffic enforcement and other skills through a certification program. He realizes some new skills will be needed in the new role. “I realize there are going to be some things I’ve done in Morinville that might not work,” Nickolson said. “I have to be aware that there are differences.”

Nickolson is pleased to have participated in a number of community events and programs during his time in Morinville. Highlights of the time have included a couple shifts in the dunk tank, the annual St. Jean Baptiste Festival, Positive Ticketing Program and annual Bike Rodeo. “Definitely the Bike Rodeo was a good thing that I did,” he said. “It was the first thing I had to put together.”

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The Community Peace Officer said although enforcement is the main aspect of his job, the community policing and education side is an important one that people might not always thing about. “Education is just as important as enforcement,” he said. “If you can give a warning and that person is not going to do it again, then I think I’ve done my job. I think there are times when you have to issue a ticket; if the person is not getting the message or the seriousness of the offence may warrant a ticket. Voluntary compliance is the biggest thing.”

Nickolson said often people are not familiar with the Town’s bylaws, which makes warnings ahead of tickets important. “People know they can’t speed. They know they have to stop at stop signs. People have to pass a test to get a driver’s license,” he said. “With bylaws, every municipality has different bylaws. Unattached trailers may be acceptable in one community, but not in Morinville. That’s where you have to look at education, and more so on bylaws because every municipality’s bylaws are unique to that municipality.”

Morinville’s Director of Corporate Operations, David Schaefer, said Nickolson has been a good Community Peace Officer for the Town of Morinville. “He came straight out of school and started here. It’s been a good learning experience. He’s been very proactive in the community organizing community events,” Schaefer said. “He’s left a good legacy here, and I think this is a good opportunity for him where he’s going.”

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