CORNER BROOK — On Aug. 29, after a nearly 31-year career with the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, Supt. Cal Barrett will become private citizen Cal Barrett.
Today is Barrett's last day on the job with the RNC. When he leaves the office today, it will be to start a two-week leave that will bring him up to his official retirement date.
He said his career, the last 10 years of which have been spent in Corner Brook, has been very rewarding.
"It's all been enjoyable, but it's also been very challenging."
As a teenager growing up in Upper Island Cove in Conception Bay, Barrett, 50, said he didn't know what he wanted to do.
"And then all of sudden I took a keen interest in policing."
He was 16 when he finished school, but back then you had to be 19 to join the police. So he puttered around for a couple of years until he was old enough. He entered training at Holland College's Atlantic Police Academy in Prince Edward Island in August 1981 and was sworn in as an officer with the RNC on Feb. 8, 1982.
He spent the first six years of his career in St. John's and was then promoted to sergeant and moved to Labrador City for three years. Barrett then returned to St. John's and worked in the criminal investigation division until 2002 when he was promoted to staff sergeant and moved to Corner Brook. He was named acting superintendent of the Corner Brook and Labrador West districts in 2008 and appointed superintendent a little over a year ago.
When asked to reflect on his career, Barrett simply replied: "There's a lot to tell."
The work he did investigating homicides stands out.
"Although being very challenging dealing with the families of victims, it was very rewarding when the case made its way through court and at the end of the day somebody was convicted," Barrett said.
He also enjoyed working with the various teams in the RNC.
The majority of his career was spent as a supervisor and while this took him off the streets, Barrett said it was good to get to make a difference in another way working with the officers who served under him.
Throughout his career he's also seen a lot of changes in the police force.
"Back in the '90s we went through a terrible time," he said.
RNC officers had poor salaries, had poor equipment and there was poor morale throughout the organization, he said.
"And we weathered that storm and the next decade that came was huge for us," he said.
The RNC was able to get more funding and support from government. With that, wages increased and equipment improved.
The force then entered into a partnership with Memorial University of Newfoundland to train its members.
"And then, with the goal that the program would set them up to be part way through a degree in hope that many of them would have degrees early in their career and bring a higher standard of education to policing."
Barrett is now looking forward to getting established in his new home.
He and his wife Genevieve are relocating to Labrador City where he has accepted a management position with a large mining company.
Barrett said the job is not that much different from his role as superintendent with the RNC.
"When you're dealing with people it's not a big change," Barrett said.
He's also hoping this new job will give him time to be able to take up some volunteer activities. While in the city he's been a member of the Corner Brook Winter Carnival committee, most recently as chair, a member of the Rotary Club of Corner Brook and served on the board of the Canadian Mental Health Association.
He also served as a municipal councillor in Steady Brook for a couple of years before moving to Massey Drive.