Local CN Police Officer recognized for raising awareness on railway safety

A CN Rail Police Officer’s hard work in educating the public about railway safety in Saskatchewan has paid off.

Constable Henry Neumiller received the 2021 Roger Cyr award by the non-profit group Operation Lifesaver for going above and beyond in promoting railway safety.

“It’s nice to be recognized and it was kind of a feeling of pride I guess would be the best way to put it,” replied Neumiller when asked his reaction to receiving the award. His policing area spans from the Manitoba border to Moose Jaw in the west, and from Canora down to the U.S. border.

Neumiller has provided education through Rail Safety Week in Saskatchewan, at schools, and at events such as Harvest Showdown in Yorkton.

He says not everyone understands the risks of railways, even Neumiller himself knew little before joining the CN Police 5 years ago after 24 years with the RCMP.

“I’ve had a lot of help from my peers and colleagues in other departments in Melville to help me learn the railway because as a policeman, I had a good understanding of my job, but understanding how the railway affects us kind of changes everything.”

Another highlight, Neumiller mentioned, was developing a “restorative-justice” program with the Regina Alternative Measures Program (RAMP), that gives offenders who unknowingly break a law the option of receiving education rather than paying a fine.

Neumiller says the ground work started in 2019, while in Regina, where he wanted to address the trespassing on CN Rail property. On one side of the property there’s low-income housing and on the other, recreational facilities.

“We basically got a community cut-off from the resources available to them, so they’re cutting across our property to get there. You start looking at things (and) you go ‘how can we change behaviour?’ If I write you a ticket, you might pay, you might not, but is that really going to change your way of thinking, is it going to change your train of thought.

“So instead of getting a 580-dollar ticket for trespassing because you didn’t realize what you’re doing is dangerous and illegal, now you have an opportunity to participate in a
restorative-justice forum, where you get some railway safety education. You could perhaps have that ‘eureka’ moment where you realize that ‘okay this isn’t a good idea. I’m not just affecting myself, I’m putting myself and others at risk, and I don’t need to do this’; and that’s kind of the goal there.” explained Neumiller.

The COVID-19 pandemic slowed the process down, but eventually after some back-and-forth talks, the program started in May of this year.

When asked what he is going to do with the award, Neumiller said he’ll have it in his office.

“I’m excited to go to the official ceremony in November and physically get it.”

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