Father and son police the waters off Oak Bay

RCMP routinely work with local policing agencies to patrol south Island waters

Const. Brian Lucas may seem like a new face to Oak Bay, but he came to work for the Oak Bay Police Department five years ago. He spent the last four and half assigned to the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit. The CFSEU-BC mandate is to target, investigate, prosecute, disrupt and dismantle the organized crime groups and individuals the pose a high risk to public safety due to involvement in gang violence.

“You’re dealing with the most violent organized criminal groups we have,” Lucas says. While the gang unit was interesting, he’s happy to be home in Oak Bay with his wife and two children. “For me to be able to be back in my community is so exciting for me.”

For those same four years his father, a longtime RCMP officer, patrolled the waters up and down the Island’s coast, including Oak Bay.

“Our paths have come close (at work), but not in uniform,” Lucas says.

RCMP Reserve Const. Peter Attrell started on a force in Hinton, Alberta in 1974 before heading for the RCMP two years later. His litany of postings includes many a waterfront community up the coast – Parksville, Sechelt, Nanaimo – and include a navigation ticket early on that got him on the water as he worked up the ranks.

His final posting before retirement in 2011 was an eight-member unit on a 72-footer in Prince Rupert. After retirement, he started work as a reservist immediately. He shifted to his current work out of Nanaimo’s RCMP Island District headquarters, patrolling south Island waters, in 2014. He’s the unit liaison with Oak Bay Police Department.

Attrell remembers once taking Lucas and his brother on a West Coast patrol by helicopter when they were young.

“That’s how he got interested in policing I think,” Attrell says. “I had him out in the police boats too when we could, back in the day.”

Lucas agrees with the possibility, knowing he always wanted to solve problems and feels fortunate to give back through his job.

“I grew up watching him helping people in the community. I’ve always wanted to try and help,” says Lucas, who worked for the RCMP from 2003 until he came to Oak Bay in 2013.

Finally, on April 11, father and son patrolled together in uniform.

“We live in a beautiful area. I was taking in the scenery. Even though it was a stormy day, it was beautiful,” says Lucas who learned to tie lines, marine radio, chart plotting and other logistics as the pair travelled up and down the Island. The day included visits to Swartz Bay with large vessels, smaller ones in Genoa Bay and lunch in Mill Bay.

“It was really neat having Brian out there now that he’s back in uniform. I hope he gets out there again soon. He gets to see a completely different perspective in policing when he’s on the water,” Attrell said. “It was great because he’s out in a marine environment, totally different than what he’s used to.”

There were up to six-foot swells the day the two finally patrolled together for the first time, with two to three-foot swells at all times with wind coming across most of the time, the elder officer says. Lucas dressed for work that morning with his usual gloves.

The small open boat with canvas sides and twin outboards is far from the usual shift in Oak Bay.

“His hands were frozen. He had his hands balled up in his gloves … and I’m sitting here with no gloves on because I’m used to it,” Attrell says.

Attrell keeps a pair of snowmobile gloves handy.

“Here I am wearing my dad’s gloves at work, a relatively grown man,” Lucas said with a smile.

Lucas says he “learned a ton”, but a standout was the culture of those living just off our shores. They come to land for food and community and interaction. They’re Oak Bay too, so it was good to get a taste of their lives.

“It’s fun to go with him and learn from his experience. He’s excited to share and teach,” Lucas says. “My dad is so passionate about what he does, his passion for his career is infectious.”

While there may be other parent and child teams in the vast sea of policing, Attrell is happiest about working with his son now rather than as the senior officer he was at retirement.

“I get to work with the guys again. Now it doesn’t matter, I’m not a supervisor out there, we’re on the same level, on the same playing field.”


 

cvanreeuwyk@oakbaynews.com

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