Greater Sudbury police welcomed two new constables to their ranks alongside a new chaplain, John Felsman.
“On an airplane we’re told to put the masks on first before we help others,” Chief Paul Pedersen said. “We have to help our people before we can help others.”
This, he said, is why it’s nice to see Felsman join their ranks.
The newcomers were sworn into Greater Sudbury Police Service during this week’s board meeting.
Feldsman will join Sheila McKillop as a chaplain to serve members and their families.
Currently employed in the GSPS central records division, Feldsman carries 20 years of experience as an associate pastor at various churches, and still serves the All Nations Church in various assistive roles.
Becoming a chaplain for GSPS, he said, is “to really preserve the wellness of our officers and the community around us.”
“It’s really about the spiritual care, and about the physical and emotional and wellness of our police community,” he said.
“When a person is going through a hard time they start looking for answers, and when we can’t provide answers in the physical, sometimes they search a little bit deeper.
“We can answer certain questions, and also start a personal journey of exploration as to getting through to a point and learning to accept something that is difficult and helping them cope from day to day.”
The two new constables are Kyle Bellefeuille and Samantha Béchard.
Bellefeuille was born and raised in the area, graduated with honours with a bachelor of arts degree from Laurentian University in the business administration program from Laurentian University in 2021. He is bilingual in French.
Béchard was also born and raised in the area, has a bachelor of arts in psychology and geography, as well as a certificate in geographic information systems from Laurentian University.
Following graduation, she pursued a master’s degree in spatial analysis at Toronto Metropolitan University (which was known as Ryerson University at the time), where her area of focus was crime analytics.
Prior to GSPS, she was employed full-time at the Canada Revenue Agency and part-time as a crisis intervention worker with Sudbury and Area Victim Services.
She volunteers with various organizations, including Kids Help Line, Ontario Trillium Foundation and the Canadian Red Cross. She also serves as a volunteer firefighter at Station 21 in Falconbridge and is a Girl Guides leader for a local Sparks/Embers troop.
The previous batch of newcomers was sworn into GSPS in January, and included eight constables.
As of March 10, there were 280 sworn members and 140 civilian employees at GSPS. They are authorized to have 283 members and 140 civilian employees.
In February, city council approved a 5.66-per-cent police budget increase, which includes hiring 10 sworn members this year (factored into their authorized strength of 283 members) as part of a three-year effort to bolster their ranks by 24.
The first five positions have been filled, and the next intake for basic constable training at the Ontario Police College will begin in May.
With five positions still needing to be filled, there should be 278 sworn members at present and not the 280 currently employed. In a report to the police board, it’s noted upcoming vacancies were filled in anticipation of attrition to prevent gapping.
Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for Sudbury.com.