Familiar face takes over chief's chair with Fredericton police
There's a new chief in the chair at the Fredericton Police Force.
While he's new to the force, he's certainly not new to policing in New Brunswick and beyond.
Roger Brown has only had the title of chief for five days, but he says he's already proud to wear it.
“This opportunity presented itself and, you know, here I am,” Brown said. “I feel energized, I feel good.”
If he looks familiar, it's because, you've likely seen him, in uniform, throughout New Brunswick.
It was just a different uniform, and the last time we spoke to Brown, three years ago almost to the day, he was also in a different place.
Then, he was the RCMP’s assistant commissioner through some of New Brunswick's darkest days:
- when two boys were asphyxiated by an African rock python in Campbellton;
- during the clash of protestors and police during the shale gas riots in Rexton;
- then, June 4th 2014, when five Mounties were shot, and three officers killed in the line of duty.
It took a terrible toll.
Since then, Brown has had to take some time to look after his mental health.
“That took a variety of forms. I built a house, I took apart a 100-year-old barn piece by piece, brought it home, and rebuilt it. Those are some of the things I've done, but also internally, I've taken a lot of time to reflect,” Brown said. “I've done a lot from a mental health perspective to try to understand the situation that I found myself in.”
Now, three years later, he's accepted the role as chief of the Fredericton Police Force, a force that is now trying to navigate a difficult situation of its own.
“You know, the employees within Fredericton Police can look at me and say ‘you know what? He lived through it, and he's doing well. I can do the same thing,’” Brown said. “But with that you need to set a culture, you need to set a culture where it's okay to talk about it.”
Aug. 10 marks the first anniversary of the shooting that took the lives of four people, including two Fredericton police officers.
Brown says the health of his officers is one of his top priorities.
“If you care about your employees, that might be simply saying ‘hi, how ya doing?’” Brown said. “But, it also might be able to say, ‘you seem distracted. Is everything okay?’ or to also say to someone in an open forum, ‘look, it’s OK to talk about something if you're troubled by it.’”
That’s something he says he can do because of where he's been.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Laura Brown.