April 7 was shaping up to be a typical work day for Oak Bay police Sgt. Donald Symes and Const. Larry Worock. That was until they responded to a 911 call from a distraught woman who was trying to wrestle a shotgun away from her suicidal husband.
After making their way into the home and assuring the woman’s safety, the officers were confronted by the man in a stairwell. “He had a single-barrel loaded shotgun (pointed) under his chin and he was 10 to 12 feet away from us,” recounted Worock.
The two officers talked to the man for 15 to 20 minutes. “I thought one of two things were going to happen: either we would watch him die, or we would have to shoot him. It was a very tense few minutes,” Worock said.
Using a combination of negotiating skills and establishing a rapport with the man, they were able to talk him out of his weapon.
For their efforts, Symes and Worock received meritorious service awards Nov. 17 during the annual Police Honours Night at Government House.
Among the six other Greater Victoria police officers honoured was retired Oak Bay chief Ron Gaudet, who was recognized for outstanding service to policing in British Columbia. He was with the Oak Bay department from 1980 to 2011, having served nine previous years with the RCMP and Edmonton police.
“It’s a tradition that started many years ago at Police Honours Night, recognizing retiring police chiefs,” he said. “It is indeed an honour to be recognized, along with a couple of my long-time colleagues … There are better stories than mine based on the merit and valour awards given across the province.”
Gaudet recalled the arrival of Symes and Worock.
“I worked with Don for many years,” the ex-chief said. “He came to Oak Bay about six years after I did. I hired Larry Worock from the Edmonton Police Service.”
He said both officers have served the community well. “This is the second medal Larry Worock has received since he came to Oak Bay.”
“Too often there are situations like these that are not reported,” said Worock of the incident that led to his latest award. “More often you hear about the bad side of policing than the good. This award was a humbling experience. There are a lot of people that do the same kind of work and don’t get recognized.”
Split-second decision-making and a calm approach, along with back-up support from other officers helped defuse the situation.
“It takes common-sense negotiating skills to deal with a distraught individual. Going in, you don’t always know if it’s going to work out for the best. In this case it did and nobody got hurt,” Gaudet said.
“It was an honour to get (the award),” said Symes. “It was unexpected and it goes to everyone as well, it’s a team effort. It was a difficult situation, but we worked our way through it and I’m very, very grateful it ended peacefully.”