Let me introduce Cst. Derek Chesney. Chess, as he’s affectionately known both on the streets and around the station, is a colourful, hardworking and dedicated policeman. Shortly after he was hired in the summer of 2008, he took a spot walking the beat and hasn’t looked back. In fact, if you ask him, he would much rather be on foot than behind the wheel. In five years of policing, he has enough stories and experiences to write a book! And lucky us, he’s agreed to share them through his monthly feature, From the Ground Up.
Keep reading to find out a little more about this beat cop and what you can come to expect from his stories…
Getting the first few words down has always been a bit of a struggle for me, but there’s only one way to get past it: start writing.
Prior to becoming a police officer, I was a hockey player in the SJHL. For the most part my skills were fairly limited, but I was determined and dedicated, and through hard work and a little luck, I was able to lace up for the Flin Flon Bombers, Melville Millionaires, and finally the Humboldt Broncos to round out my playing days. After that, I was given the opportunity to stay in the game and step off of the ice and onto the bench as a coach, where I stayed for two years before heading back to work the family ranch.
In 2003, Canadian ranchers were hit hard with the outbreak of mad cow disease and it was becoming increasingly more difficult to make a good living raising cattle. So, after a brief stint at a potash mine, I decided to try my hand at University. I had always figured that when I was finished playing hockey, I would take over the family ranch; raising cattle, fixing fences and spending most days on a tractor or horse was in my blood, but somewhere in the back of my head, I dreamed of becoming a police officer.
My four years spent at the University of Saskatchewan were a time of learning and adjustment for this farm boy, but when it was all said and done, I walked away with a Sociology degree with a major in Criminology and Aboriginal Justice and a minor in Religion and Cultural Studies. With my minor, I also had the chance to study and travel in northern India in the summer of 2006.
A few weeks after graduation, my dream of becoming a police officer became a reality when I was sworn in by the Saskatoon Police Service. Since my return from the Saskatchewan Police College, I have spent all my time on patrol. I was trained in the Northwest and Central divisions, and later spent a year and a half on the East side. My latest post has been in the downtown and Broadway areas where I’ve been walking the beat for the past two years.
Kelsie, our social media specialist, first approached me about blogging this past summer. She was looking for some officers to contribute to a blog that would give the public a glimpse of what an officer experiences on his or her daily watch. She said that mine would be quite different as my patrolling is done on foot and has quite a bit more human interaction than an officer would patrolling in a car. I was honored to be asked, but wondered if people would really want to read about my job as a beat officer. The role is far from glamorous or exciting compared to the high energy and adrenalin rushes felt by officers who spend their time in a car.
A few weeks later, Kelsie spent the day walking the beat with me. The idea of a blog was brought up again. It turns out that we were both fans of a Vancouver Police Department beat officer’s blog Eastside Stories: Diary of a Vancouver Beat Cop. Written by Cst. Steve Addison, a former journalist, his blog spoke of his beat cop experience on Vancouver’s lower east side. I quite enjoyed Cst. Addison’s blog over the years and felt that his stories were well put together and painted a clear picture of the people and issues that VPD beat officers dealt with daily. Sadly, Cst. Addison was recently transferred and no longer walks the East Hastings beat or writes for his blog, but the two years of human interest stories, rich in real life happening, are still up for reading. Have a look, you won’t be disappointed.
Saskatoon is a far cry from Vancouver’s East Hastings but we are not immune to many of the issues that plague the area. I will do my best to bring you a glimpse of my Saskatoon, the one seen day in and day out, From the Ground Up. This will be a view of Saskatoon that many never get to see. I will even dare to say that it is quite different from one that an officer in a patrol car experiences, who spend their days quickly responding to calls, and covering larger and vaster areas of the city.
Now I will warn ya’ll, I am no journalist, and anyone who has spent time with me knows that grammar and correct pronunciation (thank goodness for spell-check) are not my strong suit. I have been corrected and ribbed more times than I can remember on my word usage, combined with my cowboy/Prairie-boy slang, but I will do my best to present the stories from my view and in a colorful and real light.
The Saskatoon that I experience can be one of mental illness, drug and alcohol addictions, prostitution and poverty. But with that said, I will try to convey stories of compassion, community, and the unbreakable human spirit that I see tested on a daily basis. In closing, I would like to say that it is going to be a privilege and an honor to share with you some of my experiences as I pound the pavement for the Saskatoon Police Service, and I will do my best to entertain as well as educate.