When RCMP officers put on their uniforms, they know they have to be ready for anything – including catching a suspect in the river.
For Const. Charles Audet, the unexpected happened on April 21, when he pursued a suspect on foot before ending up in the Red Deer River.
It’s a day he won’t soon forget, said Insp. Dean LaGrange, who recalled the incident Wednesday.
While assisting another RCMP officer with a stolen vehicle investigation in Fairview, Audet found himself in a foot pursuit. He gave the suspect a chase through the Kerry Wood Drive woods before ending up at the BMX park in the area.
Despite being told repeatedly to stop, the suspect continued to flee.
He then began to float down the middle of the river, and the police officer had to think on his feet.
“Const. Audet noticed there were citizens nearby with an inflatable dinghy, and he asked if he could borrow the boat,” said LaGrange.
Audet was acting alone during the pursuit, with back up on the way.
As time progressed, Audet became concerned for the suspect’s safety, because he told the police officer he was losing feeling in his arms and legs and having difficulty swimming.
Safely in the boat, Audet continued to talk to him and navigated him to a small rock island in the river. That’s when the suspect was apprehended.
While on the island, Audet administered first aid to the suspect, who was showing signs of hypothermia. With no blankets, the constable removed his RCMP duty shirt to provide warmth until Red Deer Emergency Services arrived with their rescue boat, LaGrange said.
The suspect was charged with 10 Criminal Code charges, including possession of stolen property, resisting a peace officer and breach of recognizance.
LaGrange said the job of a police officer is often “unpredictable.”
May 12 to 18 is National Police Week, which began in 1970 as a way for police to connect with their communities and increase awareness about the services they provide.
“There are routine aspects of the job, but you just never know what each day is going to bring, and that’s part of the attraction of the profession,” the inspector said.
The day was anything but normal for Audet, who has been in the service for less than five years.
“This is a unique circumstance, without a doubt, but it’s nice to see officers like him thinking outside the box and ensuring safety of the suspect while performing their duties and ensuring they’re taken into custody at the same time,” LaGrange said.
The inspector said the constable was innovative in his thinking.
“It’s something our officers are faced with on a daily basis. Not necessarily this exact situation, but just learning and figuring out how to do the job and do it effectively with tools they have at their disposal,” LaGrange said.