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Demonstrators ‘shocked’ local officer named peace officer of the year

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Corporal Troy Bennett of the Happy Valley-Goose Bay RCMP was recently honoured by Crimestoppers NL as the RCMP Peace Officer of the Year.

The bio accompanying his award lists his many accomplishments, such being instrumental in the creation and the implementation of the Labrador Youth Criminal Justice Act Extra-Judicial Measures committee and being a facilitator for the Road to Mental Readiness (R2MR) program.

Bennett is also well known in the area for being the peace officer captured on video by Justin Brake of the Independent taking down Emily Wolfrey in the fall demonstrations last fall, using what some have described as excessive force. Wolfrey was shouting at Bennett and from the video, it appears she did not cross the safety zone line, but was arrested by Bennett. Wolfrey told the Labradorian she was shocked to discover Bennett was being honoured in this way.

“I don't even know what to say, I'm so shocked. I don't know how he got this award, it blows my mind that he got it,” she said. “After the way he treated me up at the protest, he took it a little personally I guess, when I was talking to him. I don't think anybody deserves to get treated like that, to be held by three cops, one on each arm and another one pushing down on your head.”

Wolfrey lodged a complaint against Bennett but said she never heard back from the RCMP so she is not sure of the status of that.

Billy Gauthier was there when Bennett arrested Wolfrey and said he is also surprised to hear of the award.

“I certainly don't know the man but in my experiences, when he arrested Emily he was completely out of hand,” Gauthier said. “If anything he should've been awarded anger management classes. At the time, he was clearly and completely out of line. There were no threats, there was nothing to me to justify the way he acted that night.”

Gauthier said if nothing else, Bennett winning this award is certainly poor timing. He said it doesn’t help him regain his trust in RCMP, a sentiment echoed by Wolfrey.

“I don’t know how we can trust them now,” she said. “Between this and the police officer in Hopedale who had his charges of child luring dropped because it took too long. We’re here trying to protect our future, our land, and we’re the criminals?”

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