After just over two years on the job, Oak Bay Police Chief Const. Mark Fisher is leaving.
Fisher is returning to the Mounties as Nanaimo RCMP detachment’s officer in charge. 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. “They’ve treated me extremely well here. The community and my mayor and police board have been great to work for. I got to walk to work and I knew a lot about the community before I applied for the Oak Bay job. I’d lived here for four years prior to that.”
In his 20 years with the RCMP, Fisher served in Williams Lake, Gold River, Comox Valley, Bella Coola and Creston.
Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen 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.”
Jensen cited Fisher’s leadership with instilling a sense of pride and stability in the Oak Bay Police Department and his attitude toward community policing and success in recruiting high quality new officers to the force as older officers retired.
“The process that he developed really identified – and we were able to recruit – some excellent young officers. So all in all, he was an excellent chief,” Jensen said. “He’s left us in excellent shape.”
In 2008 and 2009 Fisher got acquainted with the Nanaimo detachment, its staff and those of other agencies while working with the government liaison committee he 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, (they’ve) got some great people working there right now … 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 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.”
Jensen told the Oak Bay News there will be an in-camera police board meeting to decide the process and time line for hiring a new police chief. He anticipates the process will be quick. “We could have a replacement as quickly as three to four months.”
Jensen also said the police board sensed Fisher would not have a long career in Oak Bay, when he came to the job.
“When he was hired and given his young age, (we figured) that he was unlikely to stay with Oak Bay until retirement,” Jensen said.
Fisher is scheduled to leave Oak Bay in February.
– with files from Christopher Sun