WENDY ELLIOTT: A true gentleman behind the uniform

Wendy Elliott
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 Const. Blair MacMurtery with Keith Strong

A lot of us are going to miss Const. Blair MacMurtery.

The genial and helpful RCMP community policing office retired last week and hung up his red serge.

A native of Morden, he joined the Calgary Police years ago and in 1983 returned to the Valley to become a constable with the Wolfville Police Department. That’s where I knew him first.

I remember watching and admiring Blair on the doorstep of a loud party on Marsh Hawk Drive one summer evening. Just about to head home myself, I was captivated by how this lone officer talked a couple of drunks down. It took skill.

Once on Main Street, I recall him taking some heat from a ticked off young male. Not knowing the cause, I once again marveled at his ability to absorb a black cloud of verbal abuse without turning into Rambo.

For the past five years, Blair and I sat down twice a week to do the From the Cruiser report. It has been a privilege to get to know him better. While going through the files, we’ve talked about everything under the sun to do with policing.

When there was a flurry of phony 911 calls, he told me about the time he responded to one call from a Minas Basin community. A very inebriated woman of a certain age, dressed in a negligee and wool socks, answered the door. She certainly hoped he’d come in, but the lack of emergency was pretty obvious.

There were those time wasting calls and then some serious cases in his career. Blair had to investigate what was Wolfville’s second murder case. He recalls the murderer coming to the police station early one summer morning, saying, “I think I murdered someone.”

We reminisced last week about one of his more unique investigations. I recall it as the case of “something natural in an unnatural place,” or the placenta buried under a tree.

I once again marveled at his ability to absorb a black cloud of verbal abuse without turning into Rambo.

There is a Middle Eastern ethnic belief that a baby’s placenta has to be buried before sunrise the next day.

“The father was in a panic,” Blair remembered and he chose the College Woods south of Acadia’s campus. But, a dog dug it up, a report was made and off Blair went to Valley Regional Hospital.

He also was handed the case of the trigger bomb that went off in the Wolfville liquor store. The bomber tried to return a phony case of beer and in the end the shrapnel inside exploded. That fellow got off in the end.

Of his 14 years with the RCMP, I’d have to say his time as community policing officer was stellar. He got involved in a multitude of good causes from MADD to dogs left in hot cars to seniors’ safety.

I won’t miss the craziness, he told me at the last full moon. Blair had been at it long enough to know that the police are all too often dispatched to solve social problems that would be better dealt with by improved social services.

Having served on two municipal and one national police force, I had to ask which works best. He said, “they’re the same but different.

“Municipal forces tend to be driven by politicians, the public and size, while the RCMP is a national organization that is largely driven by policy.”

Ideally, the public wants uniformed officers that they can see and talk to on the street. That is why the RCMP’s community policing role is so important and why it will be hard to fill Const. MacMurtery’s shoes.

Organizations: College Woods, RCMP, Wolfville Police Department Valley Regional Hospital MADD

Geographic location: Morden, Wolfville, Minas Basin Middle Eastern Acadia

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