Nanaimo's top cop will retire next week after 32 years with the RCMP to take a management position with the Resort Municipality of Whistler.
The detachment's officer in charge, Supt. Norm McPhail, is set to begin work as Whistler's general manager of corporate and community services on Oct. 21. McPhail currently commands roughly 275 employees as the officer in charge of the Nanaimo RCMP.
"Shifting careers I'm still a young man, just over 50 years old," he said. "I've still got lots of life in me. I expected to give it all to Nanaimo and this opportunity came up."
The process to replace him is underway and a posting for the position had a deadline for applications that passes this week. The native of St. Boniface, Man,. joined the RCMP in 1982. He took command of the Nanaimo detachment in 2011 after he served in communities that included Richmond, Whistler, Victoria, Comox, Port Hardy and Nelson.
McPhail left a position with the Whistler RCMP in 2009 for a stint as a government liaison officer before he took charge of Vancouver Island traffic services. While it remains to be seen what candidate may emerge as a replacement for the outgoing commander of the Nanaimo RCMP, McPhail had at least one succinct piece of advice for his successor: Listen to the community.
"The biggest lessons come from the mistakes that you've made," he said when asked if he would have done anything differently as Nanaimo's chief of police.
"Our greatest accomplishments are our greatest learning, and it usually comes when you are not successful."
Through his years of service, McPhail said the basic role of the RCMP in Canada has not generally changed; the public's perception of the force has, he said. "The police officers I work with are very much the same people, the reasons they join the organization are the same," he said. "But the expectations are significantly more. That's just the world we live in today. The accountability is greater, social media mechanisms get information around the world in seconds."
He will take on a more diverse portfolio of responsibilities in Whistler as he directs the corporate and community services division.
Municipal areas like finance, legislative services and information technology will fall under his purview. McPhail said he will remain connected to Nanaimo and all of the people he has met during his tenure here.
"I'm not under any false impression of really leaving any legacy, I just hope I leave a positive impression in the hearts and minds of the people I've worked with," he said. "There's quite a camaraderie that gets developed in the police service over 32 years."
McPhail's last day as Nanaimo's RCMP commander is Oct. 4.
© Copyright 2013