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Estevan police chief resigns, but will continue work in Saskatchewan law enforcement

Lowen noted he plans to remain in Saskatchewan and continue his work in law enforcement. While he did not disclose his next role yet, he mentioned, "I'll be staying in the province and working with the entire province"​​.
Estevan Police Chief Rich Lowen
Estevan Police Chief Richard Lowen will leave his position as of Aug. 31.

ESTEVAN — Estevan Police Chief Richard Lowen has announced his resignation, effective Aug. 31, marking the end of his nearly three-year tenure. Lowen's decision was revealed during the latest meeting of the Estevan board of police commissioners on June 11.

Following the announcement, in an interview with SaskToday and the Estevan Mercury, he reflected on the reaction to his decision.

"It's been a little surreal. It's been very flattering. There have been some very nice things people have said. And it is very humbling to hear all the kind words," Lowen said​​.

Mayor Roy Ludwig, who also chairs the police board, confirmed the board was aware of Lowen's plans prior to the public announcement and is ready to start the search for the new chief.

"Rich had quietly mentioned to us that this was coming. And we appreciate the fact that he gave us a heads up," Ludwig said​​.

Lowen highlighted the progress made by the Estevan Police Service during his time in Estevan, particularly in areas such as mental health support for officers and operational readiness.

"The service has made great progress and come a long way in how they manage operations, how we look at things and how we support our members. We've come a long way in terms of their mental health, in terms of their readiness with their equipment, and their abilities to do the job. They've just done a fantastic job to progress," Lowen said. "And I quoted a police commissioner in several aspects [in saying] that Estevan has become a model for all of Saskatchewan.

"And I believe that's true. The members here have … progressed greatly, and I think the service is on a good footing ... going forward," Lowen noted​​.

Reflecting on the challenges, Lowen emphasized the evolving nature of policing, particularly in addressing addictions and mental health issues within the community.

"Laws change, addictions change, drugs change. It's a never-ending challenge for police officers," Lowen said.

He noted that providing the needed supports to the community has always been the biggest task and the biggest challenge. 

"The challenges of getting the supports for the community, whether that's mental health supports or health supports in general, and how addictions affect the community [are major challenges]. We're not immune to them in Estevan. Big cities have them and we have them; we have meth addictions, we have other drugs that have come into play, and they change the way people act, they change the way people manage their lives. So, the biggest thing that I've seen over the course of the past three years is an evolution of addiction, sadly, but it's nothing new.

"Just like we see the changes in technology that come through. That's been nonstop, whether that's social media, or we look now to AI technology, and how that's going to change the way people do interactions. It changes the ability of criminal organizations to interact with people," he explained​​.

Lowen praised the community for being really supportive of the police service, the chief and the members.

"It's been very, very appreciated," Lowen said. "We've come a long way in interactions with people to the procedures that we follow to everything that we do every day, from community connections to enforcement, everything's going really, really well. So, I think that the service is on a good footing. And the city has a good representation of police officers," he said.

He added that the connections that have been made during his tenure, including friendships with members and the community, were a highlight for him.

"The highlight is knowing those small-town connections and having those people know us, and we know the community. That is really the biggest highlight that I have," Lowen said.

Ludwig praised Lowen's handling of a critical incident in November 2023, which left two people dead and a police officer injured, describing his performance as "stellar."

"He did a good job for Estevan Police Service, he was well respected at the board level and by the members," Ludwig said.

"We can't say enough how well the chief handled [the critical incident]. Many, many meetings; many, many hours with the membership, with the public, with the media. … We really appreciated that, because that was not an easy time for the city going through that, and Rich carried us through that very well. We really appreciate the job that he did. He was very thoughtful. He was a quiet chief, but when he talked, people listened," he added.

Looking forward, the Estevan board of police commissioners will begin the search for a new police chief.

"We usually advertise both outside and inside the department, give a month or two for applications, and then go over all the applicants," Ludwig said.

The goal is to complete the hiring process before Lowen's departure and before the upcoming municipal election​​ in November. If that doesn't happen, Deputy Police Chief Warren Morrical will take the lead until the new chief is hired.

Lowen noted he plans to remain in Saskatchewan and continue his work in law enforcement. While he did not disclose his next role yet, he mentioned, "I'll be staying in the province and working with the entire province"​​.

As Lowen prepares to step down, he expressed gratitude to the community and his colleagues. He noted for the main part it will be business as usual until his departure. He also said that he hopes to help with the transition and will be there as a resource whether he is still in Estevan or not.  

Lowen, who replaced Paul Ladouceur, has been Estevan's police chief since September 2021. Prior to coming to Estevan, Lowen had a lengthy career with Winnipeg's city police.

"Coming from an organization where we had 2,000 members to an organization where we have 33 is a pretty big change. But it's been a very, very pleasurable change. It's been really nice to know everybody, as opposed to being anonymous in a big city. There's no way of being anonymous here. Everybody knows everybody," Lowen noted.

"I love meeting people, love hearing from people. The only way you're going to know if things are going well is by being out there and meeting people. Sometimes it's not what you want to hear, sometimes it is what you want to hear. But it's important. We have to be part of the community because we can't work without the community. And we're here to support the community. It's a partnership, that has to be there. So, it's been a very, very wonderful experience," he added, noting that wearing the Weyburn Red Wings jersey was the only community engagement experience he didn't like and adding that he believes things will be straightened up come next season's Highway 39 Cup.