Please Send a Car 3/4

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

Oak Bay Police Department

S/Sgt (later Inspector) Charlie Bates (front row, second from right)
(Served with the Oak Bay Police, 1946 – 1976)

Go to Different Strokes for Part 1
Part 4 Link to Tickets, Tickets, Tickets

Once again, better judgment failed to penetrate my clouded brain as I picked up the phone and called a taxi. While it seemed funny at the moment, after hanging up the phone, I wondered whether the Inspector would appreciate the little joke.

Throughout these stories, I will intersperse a number of anecdotes such as this. Each has more to do with explaining the camaraderie that exists within a small department that might not be tollerated in a larger organization. Yet, in every department, whether large or small, men and women must learn to work closely in order the gain the trust needed to accomplish the job in an effective manner. At times this involved black humour that outsiders might find offensive, at other times practical jokes carried the day (or night) and very often, spending time together in social situations where families came to understand the broad support system that existed within and across police forces in the CRD1.

With a few exceptions, senior ranks were not immune to being the brunt of a practical joke and in this case it involved the 2 I/C of our Department, Inspector Charlie Bates.2  Charlie was one of the most knowledgeable, honest and straightforward men of senior rank I had the pleasure to work with over my early career.  He certainly provided much needed balance to the dictatorial, ex-Regimental Sergeant Major who was then our Chief Constable.  Inspector Bates, however, subscribed to the old school motto: “rank hath its privilege”.

As he worked straight days (Monday to Friday) he often chose to lunch at his home near the Chinese Cemetery, at the very south-west corner of the Municipality, a distance of about three kilometers from the office. Just before lunch each day he would ask dispatch to have a car pick him up at the office, then, a little before 1:00 pm, he would phone and ask that a car be sent to pick him up.

I happened to pick up the phone one day when the Inspector asked for a pick-up and, for some reason, I was a little miffed that he constantly made these requests without much consideration as to what we might be happening at that particular time.

Instead of dispatching a car, I picked up the phone, called Victoria Cabs and asked them to dispatch a car to his residence. Twenty minutes later the Inspector arrived at the office, paid the fare and entered the station.  He never said a word about the dispatch, but one knew, just knew, the good Inspector would bide his time.

It was not many shifts later that items of lingerie started appearing in my personal car. No matter if my car was locked, I would find a bra under the seat, panties in the glove compartment and many other tidbits of exotica.  It would not have been good to leave those items in the car as my wife also used it regularly, might not think my explanation of “it was just the Inspector playing a practical joke” was plausible. As suddenly as the exotic drops began, they stopped. It was clear the good Inspector had made his point and had had a good chuckle.  One could never be too careful.

Oh, and one other in-office trick played by the Inspector.  We had a common fridge for our lunch and other tidbits.  It was not uncommon to find a poacher had sampled your goodie bag. One day there was a small bag of hard cookies that were be freely sampled by other officers.  When the bag was nearly empty, the Inspector came by at lunch time, noted the bag nearly empty and loudly exclaimed, “who the hell did those dog treats go I just purchased.”   No one admitted having sampled them.  For my part, I thought they were rather tasteless.

Part 4 Link to Tickets, Tickets, Tickets

(1) The downside of this closeness will eventually be explored in a story about the “Thin Blue Line”.

(2) Inspector Bates son, Charlie Jr., later joined the Victoria PD

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  • Harold McNeill

    January 15, 2021 |

    Wow, Graham, I was taken by surprise (but then again that’s not too hard). Having all you fine folks (my children by other fathers and mothers) would have been great. I’m hopeful that sometime in the not too distant future, we can reprise that trip. Perhaps we’ll just set aside a time for someone else’s landmark day, and we can surprise them. Love to you two. Harold

  • Graham and Nazanin

    January 15, 2021 |

    How could we miss this historic event my friend!!!
    Nazy and I were booked for that cruise Harold, we were looking so forward to it.
    We will be together soon! We both wish that continued unconditional love you receive from everyone to continue as you are that special someone that makes a difference in this world.
    Happy birthday sir, cheers!

  • Harold McNeill

    January 7, 2021 |

    Glad you found the site and that Dorthy enjoyed. I’ve added a lot of school photos in other locations linked to the High School Years stories. Cheers, Harold

  • Shelley Hamaliuk

    January 2, 2021 |

    Hi there, I am Dorothy Marshall’s (nee Hartman) daughter. Mom was quite excited when she discovered this site while surfing the net yesterday, so excited that she told me to have a look! She quite enjoyed taking a trip down memory and seeing old pictures of herself.Keep up the great work!

  • Harold McNeill

    April 14, 2020 |

    Hi Rick,
    Great to hear from you and trust all is going well. Our family members are all doing well but it must be pretty tough for a lot of people. I had once heard you were going to do some writing but never heard anything further. I would be most interested, but do you think the OB News have archives back to that time. Any link or information you could provide would be greatly appreciated. Did you keep copies? Regards, Harold

  • Rick Gonder

    April 14, 2020 |

    Hi Harold
    About 22 years ago I spent several weeks going through the OBPD archives. I wrote several stories that were published in the OB News. Feel free to use if they are of value to what you are doing.
    Keep this up, I’m enjoying it and it brings back memories.

  • Harold McNeill

    April 12, 2020 |

    Hi Susan,

    Glad you had a chance to read. I decided to update these stories by proofreading as there were several grammatical errors in many. Hopefully, many of those glaring errors have been removed.

    Many of the stories carry a considerable amount of social comment regarding the way the criminal justice system is selectively applied. Next up involves a young woman from near Cold Lake, Alberta, who was abducted by an older male from Edmonton. Her story is the story of hundreds of young men and woman who have found themselves alone and without help when being prayed upon unscrupulous predators.

    Cheers, Harold

  • Susan

    April 8, 2020 |

    Great read, Harold!…and really not surprising, sad as that may sound.
    Keep the stories coming, it is fascinating to hear them.
    Love from us out here in the “sticks”, and stay safe from this unknown predator called Covid.

  • Harold McNeill

    February 17, 2020 |

    Update:  Times Colonist, February 16, 2020, articles by Louise Dickson, She got her gun back, then she killed herself,” and,  Mounties decision to return gun to PTSD victim haunts her brother. 

    Summary: I don’t know how many read the above articles, but they contained the tragic details about young woman, Krista Carle’, who took her own life after suffering for years with PTSD. While tragedies such as this play out across Canada every week, the reason this story resonates so profoundly is that the final, tragic, conclusion took place here in Victoria. Continued in the article.

  • McNeill Life Stories Index to Police Notebook - McNeill Life Stories

    February 16, 2020 |

    […] Part I, Police solidarity and the push for amalgamation. Part II, Comparing police cultures and implementing change Part III, The past as a guide to the future Part IV The integration of police services […]