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.”

 

 

 

Just Posted

Volunteer needed to empty dog poop can in Saanich Park

Local volunteers do the work of irresponsible dog owners at Mount Doug

Most Victoria transit takers thank their driver: poll

Bus riders thank drivers on Transit Driver Appreciation Day

Sexual assault charge dropped against former CFB Esquimalt member

Navy Lt. Ronald Clancy was charged with two counts of sexual assault in August 2018

Vancouver Island overdue for the big one, can also expect mega-thrust tsunami

The last big earthquake was 70 years ago in Courtenay

Sentence handed down for sex assaults committed more than 30 years ago

Man in his 80s will serve a conditional sentence in the community

VIDEO: RCMP ask kids to help name soon-to-be police dogs

13 German shepherd puppies will be born this year

Horvat scores 16 seconds into OT as Canucks beat Blackhawks 3-2

Pettersson sets rookie scoring record for Vancouver

No injuries, pollution in Vancouver Harbour ship collision: Transport Canada

Transportation Safety Board says it has deployed a team of investigators look into the incident

Budget 2019: Five things to watch for in the Liberals’ final fiscal blueprint

Finance Minister Bill Morneau will release the Trudeau government’s final budget on Tuesday

New concussion guidelines launched for Canada’s Olympians, Paralympians

The guidelines will be in effect at this summer’s Pan American, Parapan American Games in Lima, Peru

Alphonso Davies doubtful for Canada game against French Guiana in Vancouver

Canada will be without injured captain Scott Arfield and veteran Will Johnson

Watchdog called after man who yelled racial slurs at B.C. vigil hurt during arrest

BC RCMP say man was ‘acting suspiciously’ at prayer vigil for victims of New Zealand mosque shootings

NDP’s Jagmeet Singh steps into the House of Commons, making history

Burnaby South MP becomes first visible minority to lead a federal party in the House of Commons

Most Read