Supt. Shawna Baher is the new officer in charge of the Vernon-North Okanagan RCMP detachment. (Roger Knox/Morning Star)

Supt. Shawna Baher is the new officer in charge of the Vernon-North Okanagan RCMP detachment. (Roger Knox/Morning Star)

New Vernon RCMP top cop on the job

Supt. Shawna Baher arrives at Vernon-North Okanagan detachment from Surrey

Shawna Baher remembers the day, growing up in Sparwood, in B.C.’s East Kootenays, a woman police officer was assigned to her hometown.

That’s when Baher became drawn to policing.

“She showed me it could be a great career for a woman,” said Supt. Baher, the new officer in charge of the Vernon-North Okanagan RCMP detachment, who began her duties Monday.

“In Sparwood, you either leave or you work at the mine (Teck-Elkview operations, one of five steel-making coal operations located in the Elk Valley). Joining the RCMP has given me a chance to see the country and learn a second language.”

Baher has spent 26 years with the RCMP. She has worked in Nanaimo, Duncan, Penticton and was most recently in Surrey, where she was the officer in charge of proactive enforcement. She led the detachment’s drug team, property and auto section, criminal intelligence, priority target offenders and gang and traffic enforcement.

She also did undercover work.

“She brings a great deal of policing experience with crime reduction units, general duty watch command and drugs and general investigation,” said City of Vernon Chief Administrative Officer Will Pearce, who introduced Baher to Vernon council Monday.

“She will be a great officer in charge of our detachment.”

Part of Baher’s duties on opening day was attending one of the longest regular council meetings in recent history, at six-and-a-half hours, more than half of it dedicated to dealing with 46 recommendations about making the community and business community safer from the Activate Safety Task Force.

There was also a nearly two-hour presentation from the Social Planning Council of North Okanagan where Baher heard about the latest homeless census count for Greater Vernon, and the issues surrounding discarded needles.

“I’m committed to assisting the community with its issues and working with the community to work on these issues proactively,” said Baher. “These are community issues, not just police issues, and we should work together.”