Cst. Melanie Sokoloski is the newest Mountie in the area, and has come to Taber after taking care of business in Fort McMurray for five years and more recently near Crowsnest Pass for the last six years. Originally from the Raymond area, the 12-year veteran said it’s good to be back in the south to be closer to family.
“Just before Christmas I got my transfer to Taber,” she said.
Sokoloski has two young boys and is happy to be closer to their grandparents. She said the unpredictable and exciting nature of law enforcement is what originally drew her to the job.
“I like the idea of not doing the same thing (every day),” she said. “I needed to do something that would take me outside and seeing new things and constantly learning. This job is all about (that).”
She also enjoys the physical aspects of the job.
“As a police officer there’s an expectation you’re going to maintain a certain level of fitness. I grew up on a farm and am used to physically demanding jobs. This seemed like a right fit.”
One of Sokoloski’s goals when she joined the RCMP was to live and work in a small community to foster working relationships with local residents.
“My favourite thing is getting to know the people in my community and getting to know those connections,” she said. “Being able to walk into the local businesses and having them know you by name, I think, is the most satisfying and rewarding.”
“You maintain those relationships throughout life,” she added.
In coming to Taber, Sokoloski said that sense of community is exactly what she is getting.
“It’s very friendly (here). It is that small community that when I joined, this is what I wanted to do. It’s small enough that when people see me they immediately recognize me as the new face.”
She said being the new face in town comes with its own specific challenges, however.
“It takes a little while to make those connections and figure out who’s who. That’s probably my biggest challenge. This is post number three though, so hopefully it happens a little quicker.”
Now she is here, Sokoloski said one of her goals is to work on furthering her career as an RCMP officer, and being in a town where the work load is a little more relaxed should give her more time to work through cases and give them all the attention they need.
“Working in a town like this where the pace is a little bit slower, I have time to organize my career and put that stuff together,” she said. “Here you have time to really focus on your investigations and really work them from beginning to end.”
Being with the RCMP since 2002 has also allowed her to gain some valuable experience which she brings to the detachment.
“Right now I’m one of the senior guys in the office so I have the opportunity to assist in supervising younger members and offering my experience in mentoring,” she said. Of her new co-workers, she had glowing praise. “They’ve been amazing. Very welcoming. We’ve all been getting along great.”
Sokoloski would like local residents to know she’s happy to take the time to stop and talk, and hopes people will introduce themselves if they see her on patrol.
“I’m very approachable,” she said. “I have no problem taking the time to stop and talk to people. It’s part of small-town policing, and public relations, and those aspects are very beneficial.”
Sokoloski is a big fan of outdoor physical activity in her spare time.
She will be running a half-marathon in the spring, and is an avid cyclist who will be taking part in two charity bike rides in the summer. The first is the Law Enforcement Torch Ride for the Special Olympics in June, and then she will be taking part in the Ride to Conquer Cancer in August.
“I do a lot of biking,” she said. “Road biking, mountain biking, I do a lot of both. I have both bikes.”
The winter months also lend itself to another activity Sokoloski enjoys.
“When the weather co-operates and it’s ideal conditions, I will go sledding,” she added, laughing.