Oak Bay police officer bruised, scratched in arrest of party-goer

A report of a loud party at McNeill Bay Saturday night turned into a nasty experience for an Oak Bay police officer, as some of the revellers began shouting “F--- the blue.”

The officer ended up bruised and scratched after trying to arrest the most persistent youth, who was about 230 pounds, police said. While he arrested the youth, in the end, the officer decided to just give him a ticket and turn him over to his mother.

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When the officer asked the youth if he had been disrespectful to him, the youth looked down and didn’t say anything, police said.

The incident began when the officer approached the small group of teenage party-goers — several of whom were drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana — and told them to disperse. While most of them left, a few started yelling.

The officer felt the need to call for urgent backup. It was the first time he had to do so in 24 years of service.

Victoria and Saanich police also responded.

Oak Bay Deputy Police Chief Ray Bernoties said abusive language directed toward the department’s officers has become more common of late.

“There is a slight change occurring right now with respect to trust levels of police, etc.,” he said. “And police need to own some of that, for sure, and I think we are open to evaluating and learning and evolving.”

But there is concern that “inaccurate rhetoric” about police can lead to unnecessary conflicts, Bernoties said.

For example, comments on social media show people are making assumptions about their local police “based on things they might be watching from somewhere else in the world,” he said.

“I think in B.C., the people enjoy a great deal of oversight of their police.”

Bernoties said police are called parties like the one at McNeill Bay on a regular basis.

“This was not a case of cop with a chip on his shoulder or anything like that,” he said. “This was a senior member going down calmly trying to address a situation.”

Bernoties said police get called names a fair bit and are used to it, but this time seemed different.

“And I would worry that this type of attitude could grow if people can’t come together and find a way to communicate respectfully, and have open and honest dialogue about how police can improve.”

Saanich police Const. Markus Anastasiades said that while there might be a few more derogatory comments being directed at officers lately, there has also been an increase in the number of people taking the time to engage police in conversation.

Officers are always “open and willing” to answer questions or discuss issues that come up in the media, he said.

jwbell@timescolonist.com

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