Sgt. Dave McMillan spent his final days as an Oak Bay Police officer with the added burden of planning his own retirement party.
Thursday marked his last official day working from the Monterey Avenue headquarters.
McMillan started his policing career with the Mounties in 1989, posted to Manitoba where the skies were big and blue, compared to grey, mountain-locked Ocean Falls, B.C. where he grew up.
“It was quite a culture shock,” he says.
McMillan spent seven years on the Prairies before his next 19 with Oak Bay Police, but it was there he had the highlight of his career. He worked closely with the aboriginal community, “being adopted by the chief of the day … and learning the language and culture.”
His goal was to change the perception of a police officer and it altered him as well. “It helped me as a person and a police officer … seeing a different side as opposed to just policing. Being inside their homes and seeing they’re people much like us.”
Seeking a move to B.C., he joined Oak Bay Police in 1996. “It worked out for me and my family … getting back to the Island was really important for us,” he said.
Deputy Chief Kent Thom describes McMillan as an “inspiration to everyone.”
“He’s funny but extremely professional. He makes everybody around him a better police officer and a better person. It’s just the way he operates,” Thom said. “He’s going to be missed significantly. I think he’s one of those guys we are going to miss more than we realize.”
The entire crew came together with a few returnees to say farewell on Thursday in a function at Oak Bay Recreation Centre.
“He is our unofficial event planner. He brings the group here together and is the prime reason we have the camaraderie we do here at the Oak Bay Police Department,” Thom said. “He comes up with wonderful ideas and puts them together. He put his own farewell together.”
McMillan’s aim was to thank everyone at once with the evening event that included his entire support system, peers and family.
“I’m certainly going to miss them all and thank them all,” he said, adding “I wanted to thank the community for having confidence in me.”
Over the years, McMillan has worked in integrated units, been the administrative sergeant, on patrol and in the detective’s office. “There isn’t too much area he hasn’t covered, and he’s accomplished a lot,” Thom said.
“I had a chance to move around,” McMillan said. “I had a very good career and I’m leaving on a really good high note.”
A “humble guy,” McMillan also does a wonderful job presenting the organization to the stakeholders, the public.
“His goal is to do the best possible job and improve the image and production of the Oak Bay Police Department. Everything he does is for the good of the organization,” Thom says.
Most recently in support services, he’s worked with large events such as the Oak Bay Tea Party and others, ensuring the safety of residents and participants.
“It’s important for me that the department functions well,” he said. “Esprit de corps is very important.”
First up in the retirement plans is a bucket list item. He and wife Mary will celebrate both his retirement and their 35th wedding anniversary with an extended trip to Europe.
After some quality family time.
“I have a number of grandchildren who will get quite a bit of my time,” he said. “I’m looking forward to being a full-time grandpa.”