UPDATE: Oak Bay has new chief of police

Former RCMP Insp. Mark Fisher signs on, expects to start duties in July

RCMP Insp. Mark Fisher takes over as Oak Bay police chief next month.

RCMP Insp. Mark Fisher takes over as Oak Bay police chief next month.

Police board selects West Shore RCMP boss

RCMP Insp. Mark Fisher’s commute will improve dramatically as he takes command of the Oak Bay police department July 11.

Fisher, currently in charge of the RCMP’s West Shore detachment in Langford, lives in Oak Bay and will now be able to walk to work.

“That was not the deciding factor (in applying for the job),” he qualified with a laugh. But it will allow him to establish roots for the first time in many years.

Fisher said taking the police chief job in Oak Bay allows his family to stay in Victoria after moving eight times over his RCMP career. It was only a matter of time before he was reassigned from the West Shore detachment, he said.

The Oak Bay police board, chaired by Mayor Christopher Causton, hired Fisher to replace interim chief Derek Egan, who formerly headed up the Saanich Police Department.

“If you live in a community, you know from your neighbours what’s needed,” Causton said.

“It’s like going to your local coffee shop, and that is really important when it comes to community policing.”

The chief’s position became available in January upon the retirement of Ron Gaudet.

Fisher said becoming chief of a municipal police force is a great opportunity and a huge challenge.

“Oak Bay has a really experienced group there and it’s not often a job like this comes open,” he said.

Fisher will oversee 26 officers, compared to the 57 under his command at the West Shore RCMP detachment.

He is entering the Oak Bay police force as it works through a number of contentious internal issues.

The department was subject to external reviews of its structure, policies and operations this year. Two of its senior officers were named in a discrimination case by an officer in 2009. A second officer filed another human rights complaint this year. Both complaints have yet to come before the B.C. Human Rights tribunal.

Fisher said a municipal force offers different challenges, such as officers working within a union and working with a police board. The West Shore RCMP commander works with five municipalities and First Nations communities directly.

A 20-year veteran with the RCMP, Fisher oversaw a number of tough cases during his short tenure with the West Shore, including the brutal murder of Kimberly Proctor.

Fisher also championed such well-received programs as having officers patrolling the area on mountain bikes during the summer.

The Oak Bay police board received internal and external applications, but Causton said neither were given priority.

“The objective was to find the best person,” he said. “It didn’t matter whether they were from inside or outside this region, province or Canada.

“We were looking for someone who could lead the force, be well-connected in the community, have a first-class reputation, and … it would be an advantage if he knew other chiefs in the area, because this is not just about Oak Bay. Mark meets it on every count.”

– with files from Erin Cardone, Roszan Holmen

editor@oakbaynews.com