Tofino’s new top cop is wrapping up his first summer season on the West Coast and is excited to be replanting his small town roots.
Sgt. Colin Douglas took the helm of the local police detachment in April, moving to the community from Duncan.
“Duncan was a great posting, it was very busy and I had lots of great experiences, but I’m looking forward to working in a smaller community again; in the schools with the youth and really engaging and trying to make a difference as much as I can,” Douglas told the Westerly News.
He said he was raised in small towns in Alberta and spent time policing in communities in Northern B.C., including New Hazelton and Prince Rupert before making his way to Vancouver Island with postings in Nootka Sound, Gold River and Tahsis.
“In my experience, coming from the small towns I’ve worked in, police are not only here to respond to calls for service but we’re here as leaders and role models in Tofino and in the First Nations communities,” he said.
“We should be engaging as much as we can with the youth and the locals and drawing on a lot of the local knowledge and experience helping develop our next generation. I think that’s probably one of the most important things we do.”
He added Tofino has long been a favoured destination and he has tried to visit at least once a year since arriving on Vancouver Island 12 years ago, citing the area’s “serenity” as a key lure along with the outdoor playground it provides.
“Spending time in the outdoors is absolutely top of my list,” he said. “I’m excited to be here.”
An avid hiker and fisher, Douglas has enjoyed settling into his new community and is excited to make it home for himself, his wife and their two young children.
“Great restaurants, great scenery, the locals have welcomed me and I’m very thankful for that,” he said.
Arriving in the spring gave Duglas some time to breathe that serenity in before the busy summer season packed the town.
“I enjoy seeing all the tourists here and lots of happy people walking around town, but that of course brings some challenges to the job and the community so we’re working with district bylaw, the fire department and mayor and council. I’m enjoying engaging with them in handling some of the issues that Tofino sees in the summer,” he said.
He added this is his first time as a detachment commander, though he has led major crime and drug units, and it’s also the first time he’s worked in a town with a fluctuating population that booms in the summer months.
“It definitely has some challenges. Prior to arriving here, I chatted with some of the former detachment commanders, so I had a pretty good idea of what I was getting into and the members that are here currently in Tofino also filled me in on some of the challenges,” he said. “We have some ideas that are kind of percolating and are going to evolve for the next summer to help tackle some of the issues and some of the congestion that we’re seeing here.”
He said the detachment commander role offers an opportunity to make a lasting impact.
“It’s a chance to lead and make a difference,” he said. “As a detachment commander, it’s unique in the sense that you get to bring your own spin to it, you get to leave your mark and your stamp on the town, working with the community. It’s a chance to really make it your own and make a positive impact ultimately in the community.”
The role has him overseeing both the Tofino and Ahousaht RCMP detachments and he said he appreciated the warm welcome his new colleagues have given him.
“The crew here is very welcoming from the front counter staff, our office manager, our support staff, all the members are very supportive and welcoming of me and they’ve been very patient with me,” he said. “It was a bit of a steep learning curve first getting here and getting my feet wet but, at the end of the day, I’m very grateful and lucky to have the crew that’s here and I’m looking forward to a lot of progress and headway we’re going to make here in the future.”