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Beth Ethier says goodbye to the OPP

By Sean Chase, The Daily Observer

Sean Chase/Daily Observer 
Constable Beth Ethier recently retired from the Ontario Provincial Police after a 30-year career with the force. As community safety/mobilization officer, she worked with schools and volunteer organizations on such initiatives as Crimestoppers, Special Olympics, the Christmas Angel program and the Petawawa Bike Rodeo.

Sean Chase/Daily Observer Constable Beth Ethier recently retired from the Ontario Provincial Police after a 30-year career with the force. As community safety/mobilization officer, she worked with schools and volunteer organizations on such initiatives as Crimestoppers, Special Olympics, the Christmas Angel program and the Petawawa Bike Rodeo.

A familiar face around the community will be solely missed as Constable Beth Ethier turns in her badge concluding a fulfilling 30-year career with the Ontario Provincial Police.

The community safety/mobilization officer for the Upper Ottawa Valley OPP Detachment officially retired from the force at the end of November, however, her colleagues recently threw her a farewell party congratulating the friendly, outgoing constable for her three decades in law enforcement.

“I'm really going to miss the people and all the different committees I sat on,” says Ethier reflecting on her time in uniform serving as the interface between the police and local organizations, schools and events. “I was always the type of person who wanted to help.”

A native of White Lake, Ontario, Ethier attended Pakenham Public School and Arnprior District High School. While she envisioned getting into nursing, it was a summer job with the OPP that changed her mind. She completed a four-year degree in criminology at Carleton University and initially wanted to work for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police after working a placement at the RCMP headquarters in Ottawa.

Upon graduation, however, she applied for the OPP. Ethier took her training at the OPP Training College in Brampton and Alymer, Ontario. She was posted to the OPP's Pembroke detachment which was located at 162 Agnes St. She then moved to the Upper Ottawa Valley detachment at 1913 Petawawa Blvd. She was fortunate to spend her entire career in the Ottawa Valley, moving between both the two detachments.

After 10 years on general patrol, Ethier was offered the position of community services officer when she returned from maternity leave. It led her to develop many lasting relationships with a cross-section of the community ranging from school students to volunteers. Often she would find herself being approached in the grocery store by kids who wanted to say hello or adults who had a police tip.

“It was important that I had that relationship with the community and they weren't intimidated,” she added noting how critical community policing has become in this day and age. “We're not just police officers. We are members of the community and every officer plays a part because it ultimately helps them solve crimes and interact with the public.”

One of the toughest duties Ethier had to perform was handling fatalities, especially at accident scenes. In this role, she needed to manage local media outlets while being careful to release information while being respectful to the victim's family – something that has grown more difficult in the age of social media.

“You had to remember that the person who had been killed had a family,” she explained. “I always did appreciate that the media didn't sensationalize and they were respectful to the people involved.”

Ethier has overseen several important initiatives over the years, such as the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.), bus safety, distracted driving and Internet safety programs in the schools. She played a major role with the Renfrew County Crime Stoppers, the Pembroke and Area Special Olympics and the annual Petawawa Bicycle Safety Rodeo. In 1998, she helped the Town of Petawawa receive the Ontario Road Safety Challenge Award. She also created the OPP Christmas Angel Program which has been running for the last 20 years. Ethier was inspired after realizing many children in the area were going without toys every Christmas. The program today serves an average of 150 children annually.

“That was a program I was always happy to see take off but it was thanks to the people of the Upper Ottawa Valley who supported it,” she added. “I always did love going to the school and seeing the kids.”

For her outstanding work in the community, Ethier has received an OPP Commissioner’s Citation, the Crime Stoppers Coordinator Achievement Award and the Special Olympics Honour Award. In retirement, Ethier has settled down in Westmeath with her husband, Peter. The couple have two sons.

SChase@postmedia.com