CORNER BROOK — There was a sombre mood within the crowded room of guests as people wished Supt. Cal Barrett well in his retirement from the RNC.
The top cop in the Corner Brook division was recognized for 31 years of service by being presented the Police Exemplary Service Bar at a ceremony held at the headquarters Tuesday.
RNC Chief Robert Johnston said Barrett's policing career was an exemplary one. He commended his policing abilities, saying he did a lot for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.
"He has taken on many, many challenges, difficult challenges, and major investigations," Johnston said. "He has dealt with very difficult situations, dealing with people ... confidently, effectively, efficiently.
"Calvin has an extraordinary ability to bring the best out of people and, dealing with people who have done very bad things, he was able to work with them to resolve those issues through the judicial process."
The chief, who said Barrett's presence will be sorely missed on the force, also praised his personal traits which allowed him to be such an effective leader.
"He was always the first one to step forward and provide the support and guidance to those who needed it most, during the most difficult of times," he said. "Any great leader is someone who teaches others, and Calvin was one to mentor and support others."
Johnston said the process of finding the next superintendent for the Corner Brook detachment will begin soon. He hopes not too much time will pass before a replacement is appointed.
The chief, as did Barrett himself, acknowledged today's force is in a much better position than it was in years previous. Barrett referred to the tough times, when officers just wanted to get in their 25 years of service and retire.
The chief said those days are over, because of people like Barrett, but also because of a renewed focus and investment in the RNC.
"We have seen a significant change in our ability to resource projects, our staffing levels and equipment, those things have particularly changed over the last eight or nine years," he said. "That has had a huge impact on our organization."
He also credited the partnership with Memorial University in training new cadets to advance the skillsets of new officers.
Meanwhile, at the ceremony, a number of people expressed their gratitude for the community work that Barrett has done. Coun. Priscilla Boutcher on behalf of the city, Denise Allain on behalf of MP Gerry Byrne and the Corner Brook Winter Carnival Committee, and representatives of the RNC were among those who spoke.
"We had the most amazing winter carnival this year," Allain said of the organization which Barrett chaired. "It was thanks to Cal. Cal is an awesome leader ... I can't thank you enough for all you have done for the community."
Const. Dean Peckford's comments about Barrett showed a superintendent who was described by a number of people as a man who went above and beyond.
Peckford has openly discussed his problems pertaining to mental health issues following a diagnosis of post-tramautic stress disorder. He attributed Barrett to him being able to return to the RNC.
"I don't think it was a stretch to say Supt. Barrett was monumental in getting me back to work," he said. "The support he has offered me and my wife — I am not sure that everybody would do it. To this day, he continues to offer that support. I have no doubt we have the capacity in our organziation to fill his role, but you won't find any one with any more compassion for the members of this organization."