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RCMP presence to remain on Fogo Island

 (David Bell/CBC - image credit)
(David Bell/CBC - image credit)

The RCMP will be staying on Fogo Island while recruitment efforts to fill a soon-to-be vacant position are ongoing. (David Bell/CBC)

The RCMP is staying on Fogo Island.

In a statement released on Saturday afternoon, the police force said they are now committing to permanently staffing the police officer position at their Fogo Island detachment.

That position was slated to become vacant in mid September, and the Town of Fogo Island was informed in July that an officer for their region would be posted in Gander. This plan proved controversial for residents of Fogo, given the island's isolation and distance from the planned post.

However, in Saturday's statement, the RCMP said while the recruitment process is ongoing, the position will be filled full-time by relief officers who will be based on Fogo Island, resulting in no change to police presence in the community. As well, once recruited, the officer who fills the position will reside on Fogo Island and be dedicated to providing service there.

"It's excellent," said Fogo Mayor Andrew Shea, reacting to the news. "Everybody is just so happy about it."

"The RCMP do an excellent job here and they're definitely needed here where we're isolated," Shea said. "I think the right decision was made now."

Fogo Island mayor Andrew Shea says the people of his community will not tolerate changes to the RCMP on the island.
Fogo Island mayor Andrew Shea says the people of his community will not tolerate changes to the RCMP on the island.

Fogo Island mayor Andrew Shea is pictured here at the protest. He thanks the community for their efforts in making sure the police stay on Fogo Island. (Troy Turner/CBC)

When the news first broke of the RCMP reducing their presence in the community, the Town Council organized both a petition and a large protest.

"We really have to thank the people following for coming together on this particular issue," Shea said. He said 1,300 people out of a population of 2000 signed the petition.

Shea said the Town also had three meetings with the RCMP about the matter.

"They were very professional and they understood the situation," Shea said. "I think deep down they knew that the decision might not have been a good one and now they got it reversed."

Shea said things are looking up for Fogo Island now, as two doctors should be joining the community in October.

"It's a couple of big, big, big improvements for the island," he said.

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