One of the brightest smiles in Oak Bay these days belongs to its newest police officer, and considering her previous career choice, that should come as no surprise.
Before becoming a cop, Const. Julie Chanin went to school to become a dental hygienist.
“It was working with people and health care, helping people, and I liked that aspect,” said the Cowichan Valley native.
“But I knew it wasn’t a job that I could see myself doing for 30 years, so after I graduated from dental hygiene school I applied for the RCMP.”
The interest in oral health is one explanation for that grin, but there’s a more relevant one: she loves her current job even more.
“There’s a good feeling in the building, and I’ve been very welcomed by the staff and my co-workers. The transition has been very smooth,” said Chanin, 39.
Making the move from the RCMP, with whom Chanin spent the past 11 years, to the Oak Bay department, was prompted by a few factors.
At the top of the list was a desire for a more geographically stable job within the law enforcement community.
“I have a four-year-old son, and my stepson did five different schools in five years,” Chanin said. “I’ve seen the impact of that, and my son, Sam, is starting school next year. It’s not like the RCMP was trying to move me or anything like that, but I really see the importance of stability and family and putting roots in your community, and this is exactly what that is.”
Chanin met her husband Russ, a Mountie himself, when she was in Port McNeill and he was stationed a ferry ride away in Alert Bay.
Shortly after the two married, Chanin transferred to the West Shore detachment, where she remained until learning that a position in Oak Bay was available. “Oak Bay is the best of all worlds,” she said. “It’s small-town policing, yet in a city, and there’s an excellent amount of resources.”
It also doesn’t hurt that she’s been reunited with Oak Bay Chief Constable Mark Fisher, her former boss.
“I was quite upset with Oak Bay at the notice that (he) was leaving the West Shore,” Chanin joked.
Fisher is extremely pleased to have Chanin on his team once again.
“She brought a great skill set to the table and her age was a factor as well,” he said. “The fact that she’s younger and she only has 11 years police service, she’s somebody we’ll see in Oak Bay for a long time to come.”
As for the notion that the department hired a woman to counter any negative publicity that came in the wake of complaints of gender discrimination made by another female member, Const. Jennifer Gibbs, Fisher said that simply isn’t the case.
“She was the best candidate by far, regardless of her sex, and she came with a whole bunch of training and experience which is very applicable to the type of work we do in Oak Bay,” he said.
Chanin says any past problems in the department had no influence on her decision to apply for the job.
“My understanding is that there were issues that did come to light and that they’ve been addressed, and change is in the air,” she said. “So that really had no bearing one way or the other.”
As for the job itself, Chanin’s philosophy on policing is simple.
“When it comes right down to it, it’s about problem solving, and doing whatever you can to make people feel safe in their community,” she said.
“And I’m pleased to say that Oak Bay is very friendly, very happy, and I’m very fortunate to be here.”
Which makes it pretty easy to understand why she seems to always be flashing those pearly whites.
“I’m smiling every day on my way to work, and I’m smiling on my way home.”