Oak Bay officer marks 30 years of policing

Sgt. Mike Martin enjoys his overt role interacting in community

From typewriters and triplicate to instant computer access in the car, Sgt. Mike Martin says three decades of policing includes vast changes.

The Oak Bay officer recently celebrated 30 years. He started in Ontario, spending 17 years in regional policing in Oxford County before coming to Oak Bay 14 years ago.

He spent two decades in investigative positions, often in a covert capacity. Assignments ran the gamut: small teams, large teams, solo work, crowd control and large and small multi-jurisdictional units and even schools.

“I’ve enjoyed all those things,” said Martin. Now back on patrol in Oak Bay and recently celebrating 30 years in policing, he sees opportunity in a more “overt” role “getting to know the stakeholders in the community” otherwise known as residents.

He took the Polar Plunge with fellow officers and many residents earlier this year at Willows Beach to raise funds for Special Olympics BC and was the key organizer (and instigator) of the inaugural First Responder’s Challenge Cup for Cops for Cancer on Monday (April 23)

“I’m embracing that role,” Martin says.

RELATED: WATCH: First responders score first, take inaugural Challenge Cup

His “Team Oak Bay” consisted of local police and fire members, Victoria and Saanich police officers along with Oak Bay parks, recreation and local ‘Duffers’ players. The stands filled with fellow first responders and students from the adjacent high school.

“It was really community-oriented and I had a blast and I know the kids had a blast,” Martin said.

Team Oak Bay won the game, but the event was about much more, Martin said. It was about engaging with youth and importantly, raising funds for Cops for Cancer, which supports pediatric research and clinical trials to improve detection and diagnosis.

Martin says his team off the ice is as inspiring.

“I’m surrounded by an incredible team (at Oak Bay Police Department). Our experience dwarfs a lot of another departments right now,” he said. “We’re not competitive with each other, we’re one solid team here, we’re not opposed to reaching out and getting help.”

The experience, with added youthfulness in recent hires, lends itself nicely to the “no call too small” philosophy he enjoys at OBPD. It affords an opportunity to build, and maintain, relationships.

“You got to a call and stay with it beginning to end and revisit the people later,” he said. “The community is so small you’re going to see them … so why not embrace that and make sure we’re all on the same page. And you can bend their ear and see how we’re doing.”

He recalls a few years ago an older lady called with a bird flying about breaking things in her house. He found a hat box, trapped it, and let it out into the night.

“That as her contact with the police,” he said. “Small things can sometimes make a difference in somebody’s life.”

“You get a bit of everything here.”

Expects to hang out for another five years though doesn’t expect dramatic changes such as moving from reports written in triplicate and finding a payphone to run a name and the bigger philosophical changes surrounding transparency.

These days an officer writes a report, supervisors review it, administrators review it, if it goes to court there are more reviews and of course the media reports on it.

He’s also seen significant rise in mental health issues and addiction.

“The opioid crisis is hitting all of our departments and communities hard,” he said, noting an exponential rise in related calls. “It seems to be right across all facets of our community now, that’s a big change.”

When his handful of years are done in Oak Bay, his work with youth, including the recent hockey game, give him confidence in the future. And he has advice for young cops.

“If somebody was starting the best things you could be is be yourself. I always tell younger officers, police like your parents are watching. Treat people like you want to be treated,” he said.

Another thing stuck with him from his coaching officer: “You spend as much time doing as we do as you do with your own family so treat your policing community as your home.”



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