Work Thoughts

Tonight I’m at work, for the first time in 2017. Some of you know where I work, others do not.

It is, or at least it can be, an interesting place where I work. You see, I’m in jail. Since the summer of 2012 I have worked as a casual guard in the cellblock of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Detachment in Strathcona County (just east of Edmonton).

Casual means that I get called to fill in for the regular guards when needed, such as holidays, illness and so on. We work twelve hour shifts, 6 to 6, either days or nights.

So what do I do. Here is a brief overview. When an individual is arrested, they are brought to the cellblock to be dealt with. I do the booking process, then typically they are given the opportunity to make a phone call after which they are placed in a cell while the RCMP member looks after all the legal stuff, which may include interviews, charges, justice of the peace hearings, breathalyzer and such. Whatever the case, at some point (within twenty-four hours) they are released or transported to the Edmonton Remand Centre or Edmonton Young Offender Centre.


My primary task is to record all that happens while the prisoner is in the cellblock, which includes monitoring them while in their cell on a regular basis (intervals of fifteen minutes or less). This is done by a combination of physically looking in the cell and video.

The regular guards of course have more duties, as they are Peace Officers with Strathcona County Enforcement Services, whilst I, as casual, am not.

So what is it like to work here? Well, as noted above, the word “interesting” comes to mind, however there are times when “interesting” could not even begin to describe events. We deal with over 1200 prisoners per year, from public intoxication to domestic disputes to drugs to murder, and much more in between. They can be male or female, range in age from pre-teen to eighty something, and can include every personality one could imagine (and then some). It can be positively quiet, or it can be brutally noisy. It can be slow, boring even, or it can be frustratingly busy. Can’t honestly say it is ever peaceful, however it can be totally aggravating.

So why do I work here. Because it’s a job? Just for the money? There are times when I wonder that myself. One reason in my mind is the RCMP members here. I am proud to have worked with the men and women at this detachment over the past four and a half years. They are people just like the rest of us, however as police officers they frequently deal with aspects of society that most of us would prefer to avoid, or perhaps not even acknowledge. Are they perfect – no. Do they do their best – for the most part yes. Do I always agree with them – no. Do I respect them – yes.

So there you go, a few thoughts about where this retired guy works. How long will I work here. Who knows. The joy of being retired is I work when I want to work and will work until I no longer want to.

Thanks for reading. As always, feedback is welcome.

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