Kincardine hosts OPP Veterans’ conference

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News

By Barb McKay

More than 140 retired Ontario Provincial Police officers and their families descended on Kincardine last week for the annual OPP Veterans’ Association Conference.

The association formed in 1989 and holds a gathering each year in the week following Victoria Day as a way for retired police officers to reconnect and socialize. The Ontario Provincial Police Veterans’ Association is made up of 23 chapters and has more than 1,600 members.

“Policing is like family,” said retired officer Rick Sinnamon, one of this year’s conference organizers. “If you spend 30 years you form a lot of bonds that carry on into retirement.”

Sinnamon is no stranger to Kincardine, having filled in on more than one occasion during the late 1990s and early 2000s as detachment commander for the South Bruce detachment. He said it was decided two or three years ago that the region would host the 2017 event and began looking closely at Kincardine.

“We decided we’d have it at the Marriott before it was even built,” he said. “The banquet area was the right size.”

Veteran OPP officers travelled from as far as Thunder Bay, Chatham and Kapuskasing for the conference. OPP Veterans’ Association President Bob Arbour said attendance has dwindled in recent years as police veterans age and there isn’t the same interest among younger veterans.

“It’s no different than the Legion or other clubs,” he said.

Still, those who did make the trek to Kincardine thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Aside from catching up with former colleagues there was plenty to see and do. OPP units including canine, anti-terrorism and forensics were on hand with displays to talk to attendees.

Murray Peer spent much of his 34-year career at the Mount Forest detachment conducting investigative field work, which involved documenting and classifying fingerprints, tire marks and the like. He learned about current practices from Const. Jeff Myatt, who conducts field investigation work with the Mount Forest detachment.

“When I started we had a Crown Graphic four by five (field camera),” he said. “Now they are into digital.”

Peer was transferred to London in 1974 where he worked as a detective before being promoted to inspector in Toronto in the field investigation branch. He ended his career in Mount Forest as a district commander 25 years ago.

“You couldn’t write a better career,” he said, “but Mount Forest was the highlight.”

Dave Osborne, past-president of Friends of the OPP Museum, also attended the conference with information and displays about the organization’s current activities. Friends of the OPP Museum is currently in the market for a classic police cruiser (circa 1950s to 1970s) to use as a parade car and bring to community events across the province for people to drive and children to sit in.

“It would be a living museum piece,” he said. “Not something that is sitting in a building.”

The organization is also working with the OPP Youth Foundation on a Pathway of Memories. Memory stones can be purchased and inscribed in honour of current and former OPP members – uniform and civilian – to be inlaid in a pathway in front of OPP General Headquarters in Orillia. Proceeds will go to the youth foundation which offers programs to disadvantaged youth.

The OPP Veterans’ Association conference concluded Friday evening with a banquet.