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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Comments

  • Herb Craig

    December 14, 2021 |

    As always awesome job Harold. It seems whatever you do in life the end result is always the same professional, accurate, inclusive and entertaining. You have always been a class act and a great fellow policeman to work with. We had some awesome times together my friend. I will always hold you close as a true friend. Keep up the good work. Hope to see you this summer.
    Warm regards
    Herb Craig

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Hi Dorthy, So glad you found those stories and, yes, they hold many fond memories. Thanks to social media and the blog, I’ve been able to get in touch with many friends from back in the day. Cheers, Harold

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Well, well. Pleased to see your name pop up. I’m in regular contact via FB with many ‘kids’ from back in our HS days (Guy, Dawna, Shirley and others). Also, a lot of Cold Lake friends through FB. Cheers, Harold

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Oh, that is many years back and glad you found the story. I don’t have any recall of others in my class other than the Murphy sisters on whose farm my Dad and Mom worked.

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Pleased to hear from you Howie and trust all is going well. As with you, I have a couple of sad stories of times in my police career when I crossed paths with Ross Barrington Elworthy. Just haven’t had the time to write those stories.

  • Howie Siegel

    November 25, 2021 |

    My only fight at Pagliacci’s was a late Sunday night in 1980 (?) He ripped the towel machine off the bathroom wall which brought me running. He came after me, I grabbed a chair and cracked him on the head which split his skull and dropped him. I worried about the police finding him on the floor. I had just arrived from Lasqueti Island and wasn’t convinced the police were my friends. I dragged him out to Broad and Fort and left him on the sidewalk, called the cops. They picked him up and he never saw freedom again (as far as I know). I found out it was Ross Elworthy.

  • Herbert Plain

    November 24, 2021 |

    Just read you article on Pibroch excellent. My Dad was Searle Grain company agent we move there in 1942/3 live in town by the hall for 5 years than moved one mile east to the farm on the corner where the Pibroch road meets Hwy 44. Brother Don still lives there. I went to school with you and Louise.

  • Herbert Plain

    November 24, 2021 |

    Just read your life account of Pibroch excellent.
    My family mowed to Pibroch in 1942 Dad was grain buyer for Searle Grain Company lived in town for 5 years than mowed one mile East to the farm on the corner of the road from Pibroch and Hwy 44. Bro Don still lives there.I went to school with both you and Louise.

  • DOROTHY MARSHALL

    November 15, 2021 |

    These stories brought back some sweet memories for me. a wonderful trip down memory lane . the photos were great. It has made me miss those days.

  • DOROTHY MARSHALL

    November 15, 2021 |

    Enjoyed your story Harold Dorothy Hartman