He is only 66, but Const. Murray Bayles can still remember the days when he had to wind up the police siren while driving in an RCMP cruiser.
At the age of 21, he was a guy that thrived off of humour in his everyday life. Fast forward to now and he’s well-known throughout the West Shore and Greater Victoria for his steady supply of light-hearted jokes, a superpower in a workplace that is surrounded with stress, grief and trauma.
“I probably survived this long because of my sarcasm,” said Bayles, fresh off his retirement farewell after 45 years in the service in late June.
“From this job, I’ve learned that you have to dust yourself off when life isn’t fair. You need to have resilience. I don’t dwell on the past, instead I save my strength for the s*** that is still coming.”
Born in Langford, Bayles started his career in Kelowna in July 1975. After seven years, he came back to his stomping grounds, where he spent another 19 years on the West Shore before hopping over to Esquimalt Police and Fire Rescue.
Two years later, he found himself at Victoria Police Department in 2003.
“There’s not a mean bone in that man’s body,” said Chief Del Manak of Victoria Police Department.
“On his last day he had us laughing and being witty as usual. He left with his head held high and I can only imagine the stress, pain and trauma he’s seen in his 45 years on the force. I have a remarkable amount of respect for him.”
Manak pointed out that Bayles prided himself in having a sense of duty and serving his community in the same role for years. In fact, he spent his 17 years on the same beat, patrol C watch, while at VicPD.
“You’re not going to see many serving the way Murray did,” said Manak.
“I was privileged to see him embrace a mentor role for younger officers as they were promoted and grew in their career. He has taught me not to take myself so seriously.”
One memory in particular sticks out to Bayles.
That was when he was honoured with the department’s exemplary service bar for serving 40 years but wasn’t able to attend the ceremony.
His superiors claimed it was due to work requirements, but he revealed in a sit-down interview that it was because he couldn’t find all the pieces to his formal police uniform.
Bayles decided it was time to take off his badge after passing the recommended retirement age of 60. He was granted extensions year after year, but at the age of 66, he has dreams of developing a duplex out in Sooke in the fall.
Additionally, he’ll get the chance to spend more time with his eight grandkids who live throughout Greater Victoria.
“There are no regrets in the journey of my career,” said Bayles. “I’m definitely not the great messiah. I’m just glad to see the kids that I spent chasing around the West Shore grown up and getting those thank-yous.”