Nanaimo RCMP detachment’s new officer in charge has followed a road less travelled to arrive in Nanaimo.
Chief Constable Mark Fisher, who currently heads Oak Bay Police Department, was announced Thursday as the top pick from candidates vying for the superintendent’s chair. He’ll fill the position left by former superintendent Norm McPhail who retired from the RCMP in October.
Fisher was officer in charge at the West Shore detachment when he left the RCMP in July 2011 to take the Oak Bay position.
“Oak Bay was a great opportunity for me to stay in the community I was living in and run a municipal police department and learn all about that,” said Fisher, 44.
In his 20 years with the RCMP, Fisher served in Williams Lake, Gold River, Comox Valley, Bella Coola and Creston.
In 2008 and 2009 he got acquainted with the Nanaimo detachment while working with the government liaison committee and said he was impressed by how well they worked together.
“Nanaimo interested me before I left the RCMP and it interests me today,” Fisher said. “They’ve got great challenges there from a policing perspective. There’s lots of work. Interesting work. I think, more importantly, you’ve got some great people working there right now that I know, that I’ve worked with in the past and known who have nothing but good things to say about – not only the work and the detachment there, but living in the community – and a lot of them have stayed there for a long time. It’s an indicator in the RCMP if you get that many people, I know are good people and solid workers, that go to a community, choose to stay there and are happy there.”
Nanaimo’s policing programs, such as the school liaison program, Bar Watch and the Bike Patrol also fall in line with his philosophies about community policing.
“Some of that stuff is really, for lack of a better term, cutting edge,” Fisher said. “I’ve travelled to different communities in the province, talking about things you can do and working together in communities to make a difference and Nanaimo is always a very good example of that.”
Nanaimo Mayor John Ruttan said Fisher came highly recommended by Oak Bay mayor Nils Jensen.
“The RCMP, through heresay, are seemingly very high on him as well,” Ruttan said.
Jensen, a former prosecutor, said Fisher introduced some of the community policing programs practiced in Nanaimo to Oak Bay with good results.
“Chief Fisher did an excellent job for Oak Bay,” Jensen said. “He was innovative, community minded and served with distinction. We’re sad to see him go, but we’re happy for him. This is certainly an excellent career move and we wish him all the best and congratulate Nanaimo on picking such a fine officer.”
Toby Seward, Nanaimo’s general manager of community safety and development, and a member of the selection committee comprised of representatives from the RCMP, city, District of Lantzville and Snuneymuxw First Nation, said selling points for Fisher were his extensive experience in policing, his familiarity with Nanaimo’s programs and how his policing philosophy meshes with those programs.
“The important thing for us is that he’s just a really solid individual with lots of experience and a very good education and some diversity in what he’s done, so we were certainly looking for that,” Seward said.
Smith is scheduled to start working in Nanaimo in late February or early March.