After 30 years of service, Kimberley RCMP Sgt. Chris Newel is retiring.
Sworn in at the RCMP Academy in Regina on February 23, 1990, Newel is now stepping away from his long policing career on Wednesday, November 4, 2020.
“Thirty years is enough. I’m not jaded, I enjoy my career, I enjoyed what I did, it was challenging, it was exciting,” Newel told MyEastKootenayNow.com. “I just feel it’s just time and I’m at a stage of my life where I want to start to enjoy other things.”
One of Newel’s goals was to serve 30 years with the RCMP and for all of his kids to graduate high school. He achieved his 30 years in February 2020 and his youngest graduated this past summer, fulfilling both of his wishes.
The Kimberley RCMP Staff Sgt. and Detachment Commander said there was still plenty of moves for him in his career, but it was always with a focus on his family.
“I really put my family first in terms of our moves and we planned our moves under our timelines and depending on where our kids were with respect to their education,” said Newel. “Our move to Kimberley was planned, that was going to be our last move anyways. As many people know, my wife grew up in Cranbrook, she’s a Cranbrook native, went to high school in Cranbrook. We wanted to be back in the area, we have family in the area, so we really like Kimberley and we’re going to be staying here.”
While many members dream of joining the RCMP, that wasn’t the case for Newel. Noting his enjoyment of policing shows like Adam-12, Hawaii Five-0, and Dragnet, he felt that he wasn’t big enough or strong enough to join the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Putting off the idea until the mid-1980s, Newel said he met a police officer in Langley and they became friends. Although you can’t do this now due to liability, he jumped in the cruiser with his friend and got the idea of what policing was all about.
“I rode with him numerous times and started to ride with other people that he worked with and really got a feel for what they did and I realized you don’t have to be big and burly, you can deal with people on a one-to-one basis just by talking to them.”
“I kind of started really appreciating what they did and the type of work they did and so I applied.”
A couple of years later and Newel was in Regina and graduating from the community to begin his career, taking him across British Columbia until settling in the Kimberley area.
Early on Newel was a supporter of informing the public about the RCMP’s activities and what they were working on, incidents they had handled, among other information. He would connect with local radio and television in the Lower Mainland to let the public know what was going on, well before the RCMP officially had a Media Relations and Communications Department and mandated what can and can’t be said to the public. Getting that early start, Newel continued as a communicator throughout his career, fully running a Facebook and Twitter account for the Kimberley RCMP, which isn’t always common in other RCMP communities.
“I get very very frustrated when people say the police do nothing. Well is that the fault that we’re not telling them or they’re not listening? I think it’s really important to say what we do because we do a lot of good work – we’re busy all of the time,” said Newel. “We can’t tell you everything obviously for investigative reasons and sometimes there’s privacy issues as well so we can’t really say, but we really need to tell people what we’re doing and I’ve been proactive in that throughout my career.”
Now after 30 years on the job, Newel is trading in his RCMP badge and holster for his skis and his bike. He said he’s excited to be able to ski and ride full-time, to work on projects in the shop, and camping in the East Kootenay.
When looking back at his career as a whole, the veteran is glad for how he conducted himself throughout his career and the positive impacts he made.
“I would say over the last three or four years since I’ve been back here I’ve been getting people come up to me that say I was involved with you back in the 90s when I was in Cranbrook and the compliments and the comments that I get back now from those people that I dealt with 20 or 25 or even 30 years ago, that’s really nice to hear,” said Newel.
“One woman came up to me once and said ‘you saved my life’. I don’t think I actually physically saved her life but she was struggling a lot at the time and I think she moved on in her life, and I get that every once in a while. I get some feedback, somebody will say, ‘I was maybe not the best kid around but you dealt with me fairly’ and so those are nice to hear.”
Newel and his family fully plan to stay in the Kimberley community, even as he steps out of the Kimberley RCMP detachment for the final time on Wednesday.
For the full uncut interview with Sgt. Chris Newel, follow the link below:
Below are some tributes from the community about Newel’s retirement:
Thank you for your years for service, Sgt. Newel! We appreciate everything you have done for the City of Kimberley! Enjoy every moment of your well deserved retirement! pic.twitter.com/9pmkaedbj5
— City of Kimberley (@CityofKimberley) November 4, 2020