Police Constable Robert, “Bobby” Bird of the Wikwemikong Police Service located in the region of Manitoulin Island was commended with the Police Medal of Courage and Bravery at the annual First Nations Chiefs of Police Ceremony in Winnipeg, Manitoba on May 23, 2012.
A native of the Morrisburg/Williamsburg area, Constable Bird is a graduate of the Police Foundations Program at St. Lawrence College in Kingston.
The award was given for Constable Bird’s valiant actions during a domestic assault incident in November of 2010, when he was the first officer on scene to a 911 domestic violence call involving a female who had been stabbed by her common law spouse.
The incident later involved a heated stand-off during which the accused man pointed a firearm directly at the officers. Due to the actions of Bird and the other officers, the incident was resolved without casualty and the man was brought safely into custody.
The Police Medal of Courage and Bravery is one of the highest honors a police officer can receive.
Bird says “I decided in high school (he is a graduate of Seaway District High School) that I wanted to become a police officer.” He recalls the love and support of his grandmother (the late) Delores Mullen during his teenage years growing up in the South Dundas.
In 2006, at the age of 25, Bird became Security Manager at Rideau Carleton Entertainment Centre in Ottawa, It was in 2009 that he decided it was time to pursue his policing career.
Applications were made to local city police stations in Ottawa, Cornwall and Brockville and to the Wikwemikong Police Service, which he learned was hiring officer through a policing website.
“I have a close friend who works with the RCMP and polices a First Nations Reserve in Saskatchewan. He highly recommended that I apply to a reserve in Ontario.”
Bird explains that when he looked into the Wikwemikong Police Service more deeply, he learned it was located on Manitoulin Island, the largest fresh water Island in the World.
“Since I enjoy the outdoors and fishing immensely, I thought I would give it a shot in the dark and put in my application. I also have First Nation heritage that goes way back on the Bird side of my family, therefore I thought policing a First Nations community would be a great experience.”
After completing the interview process, Bird was hired by the Wikwemikong Police Service in January 2010, as a fourth class probationary police constable.
After three months of work as an Auxiliary Constable, he was sent to the Ontario government mandated Police Constable Training College in Aylmer, Ontario. While at the college, he was selected by the College Instructors and Sergeants to be a Police Ethnic and Cultural Exchange Mentor. He graduated from the Ontario Police College in July of 2010, and returned to Manitoulin Island.
It was just four months after his graduation, in November 2010, the he was faced with the incident that led to the recently awarded Medal of Bravery.
Constable Bird explains that the Wikwemikong Police Service is a stand alone First Nations Police Service.
“At one time the Wikwemikong Reserve was policed by the RCMP, then by the OPP, then in 1994, the Reserve, supported by the OPP, decided to become their own, stand along, police service.”
The Wikwemikong Police Service has a staff of 24 people (most of whom are First Nations officers). Bird is one of two officers who are not First Nations.
Constable Bird will complete his two year contract with the Wikwemikong Police Service this December.