New Oak Bay Police constables Alex Omoding

New Oak Bay Police constables Alex Omoding

Oak Bay police vow to serve and protect

Changes afoot for Oak Bay Police as seasoned vets retire and new officers bring fresh ideas

Three long-term Oak Bay police officers are hanging up their hats, while three new members come in to replace them.

After 28 years with the department, and five years with the RCMP before that, Sgt. Don Symes is retiring from the force. Symes filled a variety of roles during his career, including working in the detectives office and on patrol.

“He was well-respected within the department and the community,” said Chief Const. Mark Fisher.

Also calling it a day after long careers are Const. Bill Bellwood and Const. Art Goodwin, who started their careers together and will now be finishing their careers together. Bellwood has already retired, while Goodwin will be saying goodbye toward the end of June.

Bellwood and Goodwin went through RCMP training together in the early 1970s. Their respective careers took them in different directions, but nearly nine years ago they both ended up joining the Oak Bay Police.

One of the new officers picking up the slack is Alex Omoding, who 17 years ago, came to Victoria from Uganda, where both his parents continue to live. Omoding worked in all aspects of African safari tours for years before accepting a job at the Fairmont Empress hotel, where he worked until 2008. It was there, after being hand-picked to serve Queen Elizabeth during her 2002 Golden Jubliee visit to the capital city, that Omoding took particular interest in the security surrounding the monarch and decided to fulfill his long-standing desire to be a police officer.

“The first person I met moving to Canada in 1996 was an RCMP officer and I thought ‘Wow … It was always in the back of my mind,’” he said.

Omoding began with the West Shore RCMP in 2009 and left in February to join the Oak Bay force. Brian Lucas, who trained Omoding on the West Shore, also came to Oak Bay shortly thereafter.

“We share a lot in common. He has more experience than me policing, but I’m more mature, older than he is, so we kind of balance each other out. … I’m more senior than him now – in Oak Bay.”

Forty-two-year-old Omoding can identify on several levels with Nanaimo-raised Lucas, who also came to policing after working in hospitality.

Lucas, 10 years Omoding’s junior, filled a number of roles on the West Shore over his five-year run at the post, including co-ordinating the detachment’s auxiliary constable program and general duty policing. He is also a member of the Vancouver Island Tactical Unit. Lucas, originally from Campbell River, recently purchased a home in Oak Bay with his wife Christie and his two-year-old son Jack.

Also new to the Oak Bay department is Eric Payne, now finishing up a nine-year stint with the Victoria Police Department, where he worked in patrol division and the integrated mobile crisis response team. Prior to his policing career, Payne worked as a helicopter pilot for 20 years which included flying border patrols in the demilitarized zone between Iraq and Kuwait in the early 1990s.

Growing up in Victoria, Payne would often spend time at his grandparent’s house near Willows Beach, the house Payne now lives in. Payne has also worked with the Oak Bay Volunteer Services since 2003. Payne starts with Oak Bay on June 24.

“It’s been good timing and an opportunity to attract some younger members, which is good for us and the community,” Fisher said of the changeover. “They’re a little more junior in service, but come with life experience to the department.”

“Coming from Uganda, where police are hated and there’s a lot of corruption, this is a place where if you do the job well, it’s very rewarding,” Omoding said. “I like to see the differences that I make.”

 

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Victoria Police Department looks to identify a person of interest after a Friday night stabbing. (VicPD handout)
Police seek person of interest after Victoria stabbing

Friday night assault leaves one with potentially life-altering injuries

Daniel Foster, last seen in downtown Parksville on Saturday, May 1. (submitted photo)
RCMP seek help locating missing Victoria man, last spotted in Parksville

Daniel Foster, 43, seen via surveillance camera using an ATM

Police stopped, then let go this man and his large collection of cans during a stop Monday morning on Resthaven Drive. Police had received a report of a possible theft, but let him go after he had returned the property, which he believed was his to take after being left out in public. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Report of theft, balancing act on Sidney street draws curious onlookers

Incident happened just before 8:30 a.m. opposite of Vancouver Island Regional Library branch

Sean Hart, 34, unexpectedly left the Seven Oaks Tertiary Mental Health Facility in Saanich on Nov. 6, 2020 and has now been missing for six months. (Photo courtesy Penny Hart)
Search continues for Saanich man Sean Hart six months after his disappearance

Support from community, police keeps his mother hopeful

Victoria Police continue to investigate a stabbing in downtown Victoria. (Black Press Media file photo)
Passerby calls police after finding man stabbed, sobbing on Victoria street

One man was sent to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

Vancouver Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko (35) makes a save on Winnipeg Jets’ Nate Thompson (11) during second period NHL action in Winnipeg, Monday, May 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade
Vancouver Canucks see NHL playoff hopes dashed despite 3-1 win over Winnipeg

Montreal Canadiens earn final North Division post-season spot

The B.C. legislature went from 85 seats to 87 before the 2017 election, causing a reorganization with curved rows and new desks squeezed in at the back. The next electoral boundary review could see another six seats added. (Black Press files)
B.C. election law could add six seats, remove rural protection

North, Kootenays could lose seats as cities gain more

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the shooting of an Indigenous woman in the Ucluelet First Nation community of Hitacu. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. First Nation wants ‘massive change’ after its 3rd police shooting in less than a year

Nuu-chah-nulth woman recovering from gunshot wounds in weekend incident near Ucluelet

Nurse Gurinder Rai, left, administers the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to Maria Yule at a Fraser Health drive-thru vaccination site, in Coquitlam, B.C., on Wednesday, May 5, 2021. The site is open for vaccinations 11 hours per day to those who have pre-booked an appointment. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID vaccine bookings to open for adults 40+, or 18+ in hotspots, across B.C.

Only people who have registered will get their alert to book

Dr. Victoria Lee, CEO of Fraser Health, hosts an update on efforts to contain B.C.’s COVID-19 transmission in Surrey and the Fraser Valley and protect hospitals in the Lower Mainland, May 6, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate slowing, 20 more people die

Deaths include two people in their 40s, two in their 50s

The Canadian Forces Snowbirds are in the Comox Valley for their annual spring training. Photo by Erin Haluschak
Suspected bird strike on Snowbirds plane during training in Comox

Pilot followed protocols and landed the aircraft on the ground without any problems

Most Read