Attitude, Attitude, Attitude 2/4

Written by Harold McNeill on January 22nd, 2012. Posted in Police Notebook


Domestic Disputes: Can be among the most difficult and dangerous of calls to attend.

Note: This is Part 2 of the series.  Go to Different Strokes for Part 1


The Saanich PD Constable stood in the living room of a Cadboro Bay residence facing down two angry people. It was evident by his words and actions that this meeting was not likely to have a happy ending. Meanwhile his Sergeant was sitting, watching and waiting as chaos slowly began to envelope the scene. There was must have been more to the Sergeant’s inaction than I could at first discern. As I had just arrived on the scene as a back-up, it would take a few minutes to understand reason for his just waiting and watching.

With two departments on the boarder of Oak bay (Victoria and Saanich) Oak Bay officers often covered off east Fairfield as far north as the Jubilee Hospital for Victoria, and, for Saanich, the Pan Handle, Cordova Bay and Ten Mile Point.  Victoria and Saanich members often jokingly referred to the Oak Bay Patrol Units as their ‘East Side Prowlers’. In return however, patrol officers from those departments always reciprocated as, over the years, we had developed very close working relationships on our parallel shifts and usually followed each other’s calls on the joint radio system.

Domestic Dispute

Late one night I covered off a family dispute at a residence in the area of Gyro Park in Cadboro Bay.  When I arrived, two Saanich police cars were parked on the street with the Saanich Sergeant quietly sitting in his unit. The engine was off and he was having a cigarette as I walked to the driver’s door. I didn’t even have to ask if they needed help as that was obvious. Through the picture window of a house across the street, we could see the another Saanich officer, (he had arrived before the Sergeant) standing in the living room facing down a man and woman who were in the midst of a heated argument.

The Sergeant told me: “Just watch this. I have worked with this man for several months and he simply does not understand that the reason he becomes involved into so many confrontations, is related to his attitude.” As we continued to watch the man an woman continued to argue as if the Constable was not even in the room.  As soon as the officer started to speak, his hand gestures and pointing fingers suggested he was angry and was lecturing the couple.

Slowly the man, then the woman, turned their attention toward the officer and as the officer continued, their anger slowly shifted from each other toward the officer. The officer clearly responded in kind.  As the woman became more animated, she lightly pushed the officer on the chest with her finger. That was clearly the wrong move lady.

At first the man tried to pull his wife back, but clearly the officer was not going to stop short of dragging the woman out of the house under arrest for assault. The husband now turned his full attention to the officer and all three began wrestle. As they fell to the floor, they disappeared from view.

The Sergeant climbed out of his car and as he walked to the front door stated: “Just give me a minute I better go sort this out before somebody gets hurt.”  He was not in the house more than a minute or two and everyone was again standing. The scene calmed as the Sergeant remained between the Constable and the two residents. As the Sergeant continued to speak, the couple continued to nod. The Sergeant then turned to the Constable, said something, and the Constable left the house.

When the Constable came down beside me, he was obviously still very angry and still wanted to arrest one or both of the residents and that surely would have followed had he been left in charge. A few minutes later we could see the Sergeant shaking hands with the couple. He then departed the house.  The couple watched through the window as the Sergeant walked back to his police car.

Nothing further was mentioned, but it was clear the Sergeant was going to take the Constable aside and try to explain to him how he might want to change his attitude. While not every family dispute ends in this manner, it was clear the Sergeant had developed a good basic understanding of human behaviour and knew how to defuse a potentially volatile situation. It was indeed a lucky group of Constables who had this man as their Patrol Sergeant.  The three of us chatted for a few minutes, the Constable slowly settled down and we departed on our routine patrols.


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  • Andrew Dunn

    May 14, 2019 |

    Thank you so much for all your help thus far Harold, aka. Tractor guy! I could not have done without you!

  • Harold McNeill

    April 25, 2019 |

    I find it interesting to contemplate how a small community evolves in general isolation from the rest of the world. We have a similar situation in the northern communities in Canada to which access is limited. The inclusion of the world wide web and mass media has changed things, but these communities are still left pretty much to their own devices when it comes to personal interaction.

  • Harold McNeill

    March 19, 2019 |

    Hi Dave. Not that I am aware and I have a fairly comprehensive family tree for the McNeill side of the family. I will pull it up and scan. Cheers, Harold. Great chatting with you and I will give Ben a nudge.

  • Dave Cassels

    March 16, 2019 |

    Were you related to Guy McNeill who owned the Bruin Inn in St. Albert in the late 40’s or early 50’s? Guy was a close friend of my father-in-law who was the first President of the Royal Glenora Club. My phone number is 780 940 1175. Thank you.

  • Harold McNeill

    March 15, 2019 |

    So glad you found the story and enjoyed. Indeed, they were memorable times. I did a fair amount of searching but never managed to contact any of the Murffit kids. However, it was neat to make contact with the Colony and someone I knew from back in the day. I have enjoyed writing these stories from back in the 1940s and 50s and have made contact with a lot of friends from those early years. I will give you a call over the weekend. Cheers, Harold

  • Yvonne (Couture) Richardson

    March 7, 2019 |

    I enjoyed your story. I too, lived in Pibroch in 1951, as my parents owned the hotel there. I was a very close friend of Bonnie Murfitt at the time. I moved to Edmonton in 1952, however, and have not seen her since. I would like to be in touch with you to talk about your story. My email is listed above and my phone number is 780-475-3873.

  • Laureen Kosch/Patry

    March 5, 2019 |

    I grew up in Pibroch and would not trade those years for anything. “ Kids don’t know how to play anymore” Never was a truer statement made. During the summer we were out the door by 8am, home for lunch, and back when it got dark. For the most part our only toys were our bikes and maybe a baseball mitt. I will never forget the times when all the kids got together in “Finks field” for a game of scrub baseball. Everybody was welcome, kids from 8 to 18. I didn’t know it then but I guess I had a childhood most dream of. Drove thru town last summer. It all looked a lot smaller.

  • Harold McNeill

    January 13, 2019 |

    Well, my dear, it’s that time again. How the years fly by and the little ones grow but try as you may you will have a hard time catching up to your Daddy. Lots of love young lady and may your day be special
    Love, Dad

  • Harold McNeill

    January 5, 2019 |

    Guess what? My response went to the Spam folder. Hmm, do you suppose the system is trying to tell me something?

  • Harold McNeill

    January 5, 2019 |

    Thanks, Terrance. Your comment came through but went to the Spam folder. Have pulled it out and approved. Can you send another on this post to see if you name is now removed from Spam? I’m not sure why it does that. Cheers, Harold