A late start to Const. Deane Johnston’s policing career is part of why he’s the right fit to become one of Oak Bay Police’s newest officers.
Johnston, 44, was sworn in on April 1. He grew up in Gordon Head, graduated from Lambrick Park secondary, attended Oak Bay United and even got married there. A career in the hospitality industry brought him to the Victoria Golf Club where he worked 10 years when, at the age of 40 and with two young children, he applied and was accepted to enter officer training with the Calgary Police.
“It was a good experience in Calgary, you’re exposed to a great number of calls in a short amount of time,” Johnston said. “It’s quite the opposite to here.
“Calgary was computer-driven, where you’re spending your day [on patrol] going call-to-call. There’s never time to work on building relationships with community members, whereas here you go out and engage with the residents.”
From 10 years at the Victoria Golf Club, Johnston got to know the residents here fairly well, he said. Johnston and his wife also ran their own business, which gave them added insight into the community as entrepreneurs.
“This is my top place to work at, I’m absolutely ecstatic to be here,” Johnston said.
It was his young family that caused Johnston to re-evaluate his career and look into policing, an option that had lingered in his mind previously. But it took a serious commitment, more than they anticipated. When Calgary Police accepted him, Johnston and his wife uprooted their family, which included her mom, and their two kids, now aged six and seven, to Calgary.
Hey fellow cops! Not sure what your patrol area looks like or if you ever get to walk or bike during your shift but here's a photo of #OakBay members conducting a foot patrol. (pic taken by the @timescolonist) #WeAreHiring - Cst position closes Friday. 👮♀️👮♂️ pic.twitter.com/90wDdDFGVe— Oak Bay Police (@OakBayPolice) May 13, 2020
Halfway through the training, which can be physically gruelling, Johnston suffered an injury that set him back six months.
“Unfortunately I got injured but they kept me along,” Johnston said. “I started over from square one.”
With almost four years of experience in big-city policing, but a desire for grassroots policing and a return to Greater Victoria, Johnston was a good fit, said Deputy Chief Ray Bernoties. Especially since he already worked in the area, and had a feel for the way of life and policing here.
“He is very familiar with Oak Bay and our style of policing, which focuses more on addressing issues holistically and being a trusted and approachable [officer],” Bernoties said. “Johnston is a mature, compassionate member who is doing a fantastic job already in Oak Bay.”
While the style of policing and the calls for service here differ from bigger cities, there was nothing normal about Johnston’s swearing-in. It was April 1, and it was under the cloud of COVID-19.
“Between me and the other new guy [Const. Derek Brand], it was the first time getting hired in a social distance environment so there was not a lot of pomp and circumstance,” Johnston said.