Saanich police veteran hired as new chief

Scott Green talked about his family tradition of police work Thursday after being named to succeed Bob Downie as chief of the Saanich Police Department.

The change comes into effect Aug. 1.

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Green, who was 23 when he was hired by the Saanich police, has been with the department for 31 years.

He moves up from deputy chief — a position he has held since 2014.

He was chosen as Saanich’s 17th police chief in a unanimous decision by the police board.

The board accepted his recommendation of Gary Schenk to be the new deputy chief.

At a news conference, Green and Schenk’s names were drawn from envelopes, Oscars-style.

Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes read out Green’s name as a roomful of officers and other staff applauded.

Green said he is “extremely honoured” to be chosen as police chief.

He will head a department with 181 sworn members, 60 civilian staff and 50 volunteer reserve constables who serve the largest municipality on Vancouver Island.

“I’d like to thank Chief Downie for his unwavering support and his dedication in preparing myself and my colleagues for key leadership positions in the organization,” Green said.

He singled out others inside and outside the department for making his promotion possible.

“I’d like to thank my family, my mother, my father, my fiancée Paula, for being my greatest supporters in life and in my profession,” Green said.

“I was raised in a policing family and as a young child attended many Victoria police family picnics, Christmas parties and police gatherings because my father was a Victoria police member who retired in 1997 as an inspector.

“There are also other family members who were police, including my father’s brother — my Uncle Doug — who is a retired Calgary deputy, and on my mother’s side my Uncle Jim, who’s no longer with us, retired as a superintendent with Calgary.”

And still more in the United States.

“Policing is deeply rooted in my family and near and dear to my heart, as is Saanich,” Green said.

He grew up in Saanich, attending Doncaster Elementary, Lansdowne Junior Secondary and Mount Douglas Secondary. He went to Camosun College and the University of Victoria, where he earned a master’s degree in public administration.

“I’m very proud to be a member of the Saanich Police Department,” he said. “And I believe very strongly in our mission, to provide quality police service by working with the community to keep Saanich safe.”

He said he will serve as chief “with distinction, honour and integrity.”

Green added that he will strive to keep the department’s legacy strong “and our culture of ‘no call too small to care about’ intact.”

Haynes said discussions about choosing a chief brought up the “rural-urban mix” in Saanich.

“What does policing involve around that with our parks and all the facilities we have, as well?”

Police board human-resources chairwoman Mary Collins said the selection process meant talking to a wide range of people.

“Certainly, we realized that we had wonderful talent within the Saanich Police Department itself, and that we would proceed on that basis.”

Choosing a chief from within the ranks has been a trend for some time in Saanich, with department veteran Downie having taken over the job from Mike Chadwick, who was a 35-year department member. Chadwick, in turn, succeeded Derek Egan, who was also a Saanich police officer for 35 years.

Downie will be stepping away after 37 years with the department. He said he gave notice to the Saanich Police Board in 2017 that he would be retiring in two years.

“I did that intentionally to give us a timeline for us to plan for the succession of our organization, for the board to plan for a smooth transition to a new chief and to give a lot of consideration as to how we we’re going to do that,” he said. “The board has done a lot of work for several months now.”

The route his job took generated some controversy in 2017 after he left his position with a cheque for $379,000 in severance and banked pay, then came back as a contractor, earning $223,000 annually plus benefits. Downie did nothing wrong, but the situation generated criticism of some of the payouts and other perks in the public sector.

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