The RCMP says it is making nationwide changes to its safety practices for officers who go out on the water, after an officer drowned in a Yukon river one year ago.


Const. Michael Potvin, 26, drowned in the Stewart River near Mayo, Yukon, after the RCMP boat he was in capsized on July 13, 2010. A monument will be dedicated in Potvin's memory Wednesday afternoon in Mayo. ((RCMP))

Const. Michael Potvin, a 26-year-old officer originally from the Ottawa area, died in the Stewart River at Mayo, Yukon, after the RCMP boat he and another officer were operating capsized on July 13, 2010.

The other officer stayed with the overturned boat and was rescued, but Potvin disappeared in the river as he tried to swim to shore. His body was found  on July 30, 2010, about 50 kilometres downstream.

RCMP and community members, along with Potvin's wife and young son, will dedicate a monument in Potvin's memory at a service scheduled for Wednesday afternoon in Mayo.

"It's a sad anniversary and it's a tragic moment in the history of M Division," Sgt. Don Rogers told CBC News.

"You know, [there's] nothing good that happened on that day, but we can remember Michael for the member that he was and honour his memory."

Following Potvin's death, the RCMP reviewed its national policies on water transport and equipment standards.

6 new boats in Yukon

The force is now developing a water transport safety program and a national policy that would require detachment commanders to get "local information on environmental and geographical conditions" in their areas, according to a release.

Rogers said the Yukon RCMP conducted its own review and has since made some safety changes, such as buying six new police boats and additional safety equipment.

Marine transport training for officers has improved generally, Rogers said, adding that 40 Yukon members have taken enhanced training on marine emergency duties.

Rogers said the safety measures are meant to keep officers safe and ensure they can carry out emergency rescue operations, such as the July 7 rescue of a woman and her dog from the Yukon River in Whitehorse.

"The recent rescue in Miles Canyon, we were able to put a boat in the water, effect the rescue of a woman and her dog, and get the back boat out of the water all within 30 minutes," he said.

"We're hoping that the lessons that we've learned from the tragic death of Const. Potvin is something that we use as a legacy for him."