MORRISBURG – Being a member of the Ontario Provincial Police Golden Helmets is a prestigious honour held by only 18 officers across the province, and one of them is a member of the local detachment of the Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Ontario Provincial Police.
Provincial Constable Ivan Lalonde, who has been with the OPP 23 years serving primarily as a traffic officer, is that SDG officer.
He is one of four motorcycle police instructors across the province, and had always wanted to be a member of the Golden Helmets.
It took Lalonde, who has been riding motorcycles for 40 years, a long time to apply to the Golden Helmets.
“Those guys are the best of the best, I didn’t think I had the chops,” said Lalonde.
But when he finally did try out, he made the team.
Lalonde has been part of the Golden Helmets four years, and he plans to remain with them until he retires.
“It’s the highlight of my career,” said Lalonde, who is very proud to be a part of the precision motorcycle riding team originally formed in 1963 as the force’s goodwill ambassadors.
He is only one of two members of the Golden Helmets who are from the East Region, the other being from Madoc.
Lalonde, who was born and raised in Ingleside, would love for there to be more shows in this area.
There are so few shows in this area that he had been riding as part of the team for two years before most of his family had the opportunity to attend a show.
“It would be fantastic to have a show here,” he said.
As a Golden Helmet, if an event is taking place in a member’s hometown they become the “Hometown Hero” for the show.
“It’s a real special honour,” said Lalonde, one that he would like to experience.
He is encouraging communities and community organizations across SDG to go online (opp.ca) and request a performance. There is no charge for the Golden Helmets to perform at an event.
Events with enough paved area (50×600 feet) and a charity component are given top consideration.
Being with the Golden Helmets has given Lalonde the opportunity to travel the province, which is a really great thing about being part of the team.
But for Lalonde the very best thing is having the opportunity to interact with the public in such a favourable way.
“The interactions are always very positive which is something you don’t get a lot of being an officer,” said Lalonde.
Kids love the show, and every member of the Golden Helmets has his own trading cards which he signs and hands out.
Each of the Golden Helmets has a nickname, and Lalonde’s is Nelly.
He explained that he first got the nickname because along with being the oldest member of the team, when he was new to the team he was very worried about messing up the drills. “So, at first I was Nervous Nelly.”
But after being the diamond cutter in splitting the diamond formation where he drives towards the group and it splits into two lines, the nickname then stood for “Whoa Nelly.”
The Golden Helmets are made up of regular uniformed officers.
During the 30 minute performance the riders take the Harley Davidson bikes through a series of complex patterns, to demonstrate maneuverability and skill.
They perform exhibitions of superb riding skills at fairs, festivals and parades, using the same bikes they use on normal patrol.