New bilingual Timmins constable highlights importance of diverse police force, officials say

The recent recruitment of an officer fluent in French is an asset in serving Timmins' francophone community, according to the Timmins Police Service.

Const. Maggie Poulin said she is humbled to be able to serve her home community after graduating from the Ontario Police College, saying being bilingual will be a major help in the field.

"Some people are really just (speaking) French in our community and you don't realize until you go to that one call and they're just purely French," Poulin said, adding that it can be frustrating for francophones to be unable to communicate with police.

"Being able to show them that I am French ... you're building trust and kind of a relationship early on, just people being like, 'oh, you speak French.'"

The police service's communications coordinator, Marc Depatie, said the addition of Poulin makes just over half of the service's officers bilingual. That number is higher amongst its dispatch and support workers, he said.

It's important to have a diverse police force, Depatie said, especially in a city with such a large French-speaking population.

"Given the background of the French-Canadians that are very strong and prominent in the Timmins area, it is our obligation to provide service, as best we can, in both official languages," said Depatie.