Sgt. Debassige started her policing career in 1992. Heather was hired to police in her home community when it was still known as West Bay and before the incorporation of the UCCM Police Service. Sgt. Debassige recalls that she and her family were living and working in Sudbury. It was one of her sisters who first talked to her about the job opportunity and until then she hadn’t really considered a career in policing! Not one to back away from new experiences Heather applied and hasn’t looked back since!
Reflecting on her early years as an Officer, she says “There are things you learn in school, but there is more you learn once you are on the job” referring to working the roads and being one of only a few on Manitoulin who had training in conducting sexual assault investigations. Heather credits strong professional relationships with local OPP Officers in guiding her as a rookie and a loving supportive family in achieving balance in policing.
Sgt. Debassige says “I never want to see anyone fall behind and I’ve always wanted to help”and this is evident in the career choices she has made over the years. In 2008, Heather took the Senior Police Administration course and in 2012 took the Sergeants promotional exam, earning the promotion in 2014 on a full time basis.
When asked how policing has changed over the years she states that the criteria to become an Officer is more rigorous now. Upon further reflection, Heather notes that the concept of community policing is coming full circle in particular more proactive effort versus reactive response. Heather also finds it interesting when working with new recruits and seeing the how they grow and develop as Officers, she thinks about others who she started working with and have now gone on to retire…balancing the new with the experienced and yet knowing you are part of a team!
Heather is motivated by change, she enjoys the complexities of her work noting “This is not a place where you are doing the same thing every day – it is never the same”. She also gets satisfaction from the work on major cases and sexual assaults, seeing how the service has grown and she herself has advanced in the ranks.
“Policing is always going to be part of our communities and we all need to work together”
Sgt. H. Debassige