After close to 28 years as part of the Regina Police Service, Chief Evan Bray will be handing in his gun and badge.
Bray announced earlier this year that it “felt like a good time” to retire.
With June 30th marking his retirement, 620 CKRM sat down with Bray to discuss his nearly three-decade-long career.
Bray said being a police officer is a childhood dream come true. However, it didn’t always look like his career was in policing.
“I wanted to be a police officer since the age of five, and through my whole elementary and high school days, all I wanted was to be a police officer,” he said. “I’d applied to the RCMP. It didn’t happen that first year, so I needed to do something after high school and got into media. I worked in Medicine Hat and then here in Regina.”
While working as a disc jockey in Regina, he was given an opportunity he couldn’t pass up.
“I had a police officer come into the radio station and talk about Halloween safety tips on the radio. During the commercial break, I told him I always wanted to be a police officer and that I’m waiting to hear from the RCMP, and he said, you should come and put your name in with us. So I took the Regina Citizens Police Academy back in 1993 and put my application in, got hired in 95.”
Bray originally started with the police service back in August 1995. Over the next decade and a half, he would work primarily on the front lines holding various positions within the RPS, moving from Corporal to Patrol Seargent until being named watch commander in July 2012. He would later be named Inspector of the North District in November 2014, a position he would hold until being blamed as police chief on October 2016.
Through his decades of service, his relationships with the community stand out as my biggest highlight.
“I grew up on a farm out in Abernathy, so community to me started with meaning at an early age. Community is the area you live in and the people you live with,” he said. “Moving to Regina, I fell in love with this community. To me, highlights really are about the relationships that I’ve been able to make in the community and within our police service, and I will take those into retirement.”
“There’s also been lots of pivotal moments in my career, moments that help shape the person that you are,” he added.
Bray pointed to a high-profile homicide case he was involved in early in his policing career as one of those pivotal moments.
“It opened my eyes to what investigations were about, and it forced me to be better at taking notes and writing reports and testifying in court. All of those things happened very early in my career. Sometimes pivotal or key points aren’t always happy memories. Sometimes they can be tragic things that happen, but they help shape the person that you become.”
As a police officer, Bray has seen the worst of Regina, but despite seeing the dark side of the Queen City, he can’t help but be grateful for the community he calls home.
“If you think about someone that you care about deeply and that you love the most, you know everything about them, including their bad parts. That’s how I feel about this community; just because I know some of the tragedies that have happened and where there’s a need for improvement and what the challenges are doesn’t mean I love it less.”
He said the best part of his job had been the relationships he has made along the way.
“Policing is very much like family. Our police service is roughly 700 people. I’ve grown up in this organization, and so no different than a very small town, you know, everybody in town. You get to know their family, their holiday plans,” he said. “My family has grown in the 28 years that I’ve been here, and I still walk around the halls to this day, and I can stop and visit with anyone.”
“That is probably the single biggest takeaway for me personally, is the meaningful, lasting relationships that I’ll be walking away here from.”
While Bray feels like the RPS is his family, his own family has followed in his footsteps, with his son currently a police officer in Saskatoon and his daughter currently a paramedic in Regina.
“I’m super proud of that, and I’m proud of what they’re doing and our community. That’s gonna be part of if you can use the word, legacy for me. It’s not necessarily what I’ve done, but it’s what my family and the rest of us can do to make a difference in the community, and I’ve got two kids who I’m so proud of that are doing that in both Regina and Saskatoon.”
Bray isn’t just proud of his kids but also of what he and the RPS have been able to accomplish during his time as the Chief of Police.
“There were a couple of priorities I was given when I was chief. One of them was to build relationships in the community,” he said. “I have made a very concerted effort to get myself out there in the community. Meet with people, attend events that sometimes might be challenging and town halls. Access to the chief, to the police service, is part of building trust in the community.”
“Inside the building, I am also very proud of the work we’ve been able to do with our staff. We’ve got an incredible group of people that work here. There have been lots of advances we’ve been able to make, and I am leaving with my head held high.”
Since announcing his retirement in March, Bray has been able to reminisce and enjoy his last few months at the RPS.
“I’ve kept my days a little bit longer so I can sit at my desk, review some emails, go through some old different documents and things that we’ve done through the years,” he said. “I have been very reflective since the end of March when I announced my retirement. I’ve also been really making a conscious effort to try and get out and meet with people both in the community and without our police service here.”
“I know when July 1st comes, and it’s official, and I’m no longer working as the chief of police, it’ll be bittersweet,” Bray continued. “I’m looking forward to it, I’m excited about the change in pace, but you won’t work in an organization for nearly 30 years without feeling like a little bit of you belongs in that organization.”
With Bray retiring, the search for the next chief of police is currently ongoing. Whoever takes the position, Bray had some advice for them.
“I would simply ask them to continue to care about this community, about the people that work in this organization,” he stated. “Although it can be hard on your heart at times if you genuinely care about people, it’s the only way to be a true leader and show how genuine you are. My hope is that the next chief of police steps in here and not only propels this police service and this community to bigger and better things than where we’re at right now but does so in a very caring and compassionate way to help the community.”
Bray also had some parting words for the over 230,000 residents he served.
“We just have to take care and be kind to one another. I know that sounds so basic, and growing up as a young lad in Abernathy, those probably were words of advice I got from parents and grandparents, but really that’s what it comes down to. Let’s be nice to one another. Let’s treat one another with respect,” he said. “It can be a wicked world, so let’s just take care of one another.”
With his time at the RPS coming to a close, Bray said that while he is always one call away to offer advice, he will be stepping out of the policing world entirely, but did note that he won’t be fully retired.
“This really will be a step back from policing and an opportunity to just reflect on maybe some new opportunities. I do plan on working eventually. I don’t think I’ll sit in a rocking chair doing nothing, but at the same time, I’m excited to have a little bit of time off, a little bit of undirected free time.”
As for how he will spend that free time, Bray said much of it will be spent with his family.
“We have a little family cabin out at a lake, so we like to spend some time out there. I’m a grandpa, so I’d love to be a grandpa,” he said. “It’s that basic, just spending some time with family reconnecting. This job; while it’s been great, it’s been heavy. There are a lot of expectations. It takes me away a lot of evenings and weekends. I’m excited to slide back into being Evan Bray again.”