Altona's Police Chief Perry Batchelor has been awarded the Police Exemplary Service Medal.

The award, created in 1983, recognizes police officers who have served in an exemplary manner, characterized by good conduct, industry and efficiency. Recipients must have completed 20 years of full-time service.

Batchelor said it felt good to accept the medal.

"It is certainly a milestone when you get recognized for 20 years of service in this profession so it was much appreciated," he said.

He noted the job has changed a lot over the years. Batchelor moved his way up in the field starting as a constable in 1997, was promoted to sergeant in 2000, and took over as police chief in 2010.

"There's been lots of legislative changes around drinking and driving for example, there always seems to be something happening within the criminal code, whether it's changing laws, certainly lots of change within our own community," he said. "Things that we did 20 years ago we don't do anymore, when I talk about that I'm referring to attending to calls by yourself or not having connection with the proper dispatch service. When I started here we didn't have dispatch, now we're at full dispatch out of Brandon."

He added other changes include the equipment that an officer carries, such as active shooter kits, carbines, tasers, and in-car computers.

"I would also say that we've had very good support previously from our council and currently from our police board with allowing us to keep up with this ever-changing world," Batchelor noted.

Before deciding on a career in the police service, Batchelor was in the Canadian Army for about 17 years. However, he and his wife decided to move back to the Altona area, where they felt was a good place a raise a family.

"I really moved my family around an awful lot, and we made a decision as a family that we would like a little more stability in our lives," he explained. "We decided to make a career move in 1997."

"We were always kind of thinking we would come home and we came home, and this has been our home now for 20 years and it's been a great place to raise kids exactly as we had thought," he added.

Batchelor noted he thought a job in law enforcement would be a little less intense than one in the military. However, he recalled his first day on the job being quite eventful.

"I'll never forget the first call that I was on was a shots-fired," he recalled, adding that the situation ended safely.

Looking into the future, Batchelor noted there are many challenges ahead for Altona's police force and for law enforcement in general.

"We've got some significant challenges ahead. Policing is every expensive, every year we head into budget season there are challenges and we try to mitigate those challenges best we can, constantly applying for various grants," he said. "We really need to stay on top of changes and we need to stay current in all aspects."

For example, Batchelor commented on the impending legalization of marijuana. "It will impact every police service across the country with training expenses, equipment expenses, and making sure that our roads are safe," he said.

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