The Dawn Patrol

This morning, December 15th, 2014 was a beautiful day in Victoria.  At about 8:20 am my wife and I drove to Elk Lake Regional Park via Highway 17.   As we joined the highway we saw Mount Baker shining in the morning sun.   A beautiful and inspiring sight.   That view reminded me of another morning, about 47 years ago and that is why I am writing this article.

It was about 4:30 am in the summer of 1967.   I was one of 6 police officers of “B” Platoon, working the Midnight shift in the Saanich Municipal Police Department.   One officer was of course on duty in the office.  That left our Sergeant John Post (later Inspector and a founding instructor at what was to become the Justice Institute of BC), and 4 constables to patrol Saanich.    Two were assigned the ‘East Car’ and myself and another officer were assigned the ‘West Car’ (Car Five Two this shift).   It was a beautiful summer night with very little happening.     After about 1:00 am the community was asleep.   There were very few calls, very few cars on the roads.   We had done our appointed rounds which involved checking the fronts and backs of every commercial building in our zone.  We had been in to the office for coffee, we had eaten our lunch.     We had gone back out and begun a second round of our area.   Typical part of the police life: hours of boredom!  The East Car had also finished their lunch.  The sky was just beginning to lighten up.

At 4:25 am there was a call on our radio from Sergeant Post.  “Five Two and Five Six, meet me at the corner of Claremont and Wesley  drive.   It is NOT an emergency, but get here as soon as you can”   We had no idea what the Sergeant wanted.   It was very unusual to call both patrol units to one place.   I was just driving through the back of the Royal Oak Shopping Centre so we covered the distance in about 6 minutes.   Car Five Six was further, down in the Shelbourne Plaza area, and took about 12 minutes to arrive.

And arrive we did!  There on the crest of that hill, the sun was just rising over Mount Baker and the mountains of Washington State.   It was an amazing and beautiful sight, one often repeated since, but never in such circumstances.   The Sgt. apologized for ‘bringing’ up to see this, but he said we had to see it.   He was right!   For about 10 minutes, 5 uniformed police officers stood, with our three marked cars lined up behind us watching that sunrise.   Then we all thanked our Sgt. for having called us, we got back into our cars and went back to work on that Dawn Patrol.    At about 6:00 the city woke up.  We were dispatched to assist Firefighters on an ambulance call, quickly followed by a motor vehicle accident.   The magic of the morning was broken, but never forgotten.

We all learned a lot that morning.  We learned to take in the beauty of the world and the community we worked in.   We also learned that it is okay to see that beauty.  We learned that it is okay for ‘tough guys’ wearing a badge and a uniform, carrying a gun, to share a positive emotion.  That a good supervisor can show his respect for beauty and for the world around him.   We learned that in doing so he/she can increase the respect of his team.     I know we all went back to work uplifted and we realized what an amazing Sergeant we had.

John Post was an amazing man and leader, one of half a dozen such leaders I had the privilege of working for (and with) in Saanich.   John was a man of integrity and strong convictions.   A hero in my eyes and of my fellow officers that morning.

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