In the week before Christmas, Cpl. Nancy Joyce transferred from the Surrey Police Detachment to Bowen Island. She said, "I was there a little over six years. In that time, I was promoted from constable to corporal after working in a supervisor role for over a year." Prior to working in Surrey, Cpl. Joyce was part of the Missing Women Task Force that investigated the disappearance of women from Vancouver's downtown eastside. She will bring that expertise to Bowen Island and says that one of her priorities is working with the RCMP Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) to find out what happened to Jodi Henrickson. "That is what I do," says Cpl. Joyce. "I find missing persons."
Before her posting to the Missing Women Task Force, Cpl. Joyce worked in Mission, a place that reminded her a lot of Kelowna, where she grew up. When she met Cpl. Don Southern, the previous supervisor of the Bowen RCMP detachment, he told her that he thought she would be a good fit for the island. "I worked on a RCMP leadership forum for the Pacific region," Cpl. Joyce said. "There I met Don [Southern] and he told me that he would be leaving Bowen Island this year." Cpl. Joyce explained that the RCMP has an internal process where members of the police force can identify places they would like to work. Shortly after adding Bowen to her list, Cpl. Joyce was asked if she would consider moving there.
"I took some time to make that decision," Cpl. Joyce said. "I wanted to make sure it was the right position for me. I also wanted to see whether I would be the right fit for the community." Cpl. Joyce came to the island three times. She first visited in June, then in August. Then she returned in November for an overnight stay and brought her dogs. At that time, she met with Consts. Bryan Mulrooney and Chris Froats. "It's a big change from Surrey," Cpl. Joyce says. "I had to be sure I could make that commitment."
Cpl. Joyce made her decision in November and moved on December 20. And the week before, she went to pick up a new dog. "It wasn't the best timing with the movers at my house but I was told that I had to get her right away," says Cpl. Joyce with a smile. "I am a rescue coordinator for Kerry Blue Terriers and I received a call to pick up a one and a half-year-old female that needed a home. I have a male, Quinn, and I always wanted to get a girl."
Cpl. Joyce says that Quinn had a hard time adjusting to the move as well as his new companion, Lucy. Quinn was a puppy mill rescue dog and Cpl. Joyce got him when he was two. "He was in a terrible state but the foundation has been very effective in curbing puppy mills," she said and added that she looks forward to taking her Kerry Blue Terriers on long walks.
As much as Cpl. Joyce enjoys leisurely walks, her passion is going fast. "I race motorcycles. I've done it for five years," she says. She races a Honda NSR 50 at the sport amateur level and seems to have a different perception of speed. "On a short track, it is difficult to get the speed." Cpl. Joyce said. She added, "I visited Australia and rode on the Phillip Island Track in Melbourne. Even going down a straight track, I made only 225 km/h, that's how slow I am."
The Phillip Island circuit is considered to be one of the greatest tracks in the world and racing there had been on Cpl. Joyce's bucket list. She also shared an item that is still outstanding, "There is a company called World Class Driving. They rent a track in New York and, for $8000, you can spend a morning where they teach you to a ride a Formula one race car. And in the afternoon, you get to play around."
Cpl. Joyce smiles and adds, "It's another one of the things on my bucket list."
Cpl. Joyce says that roads are not suitable for high-speed driving. "If people want to go fast, I tell them to go to a track. I discourage people from racing on the street and I organize track days in Pitt Meadows once a month in the summer." She adds, "I want people to come to a safe place to practice going fast."
She takes her bike to the Greg Moore Raceway in Chilliwack. "The Pacific Coast Mini Roadracing Club rents the track, I go there for the practice," she says and adds that there are about eight to 10 races a year; the season starts in April/May.
So far, Cpl. Joyce's impression of her work on Bowen Island has been favourable. "The first days have been great," she said. "Everyone is friendly and people seem to be supportive of what we do." She added that she attributes that support to the good groundwork that has been done by Cpl. Southern and Consts. Mulrooney and Froats.
"What I'd like to do is to keep moving along the same course Don [Southern] has been setting. I'm not here to make huge changes," says Cpl. Joyce. "But I might make a few suggestions for the next few years. I started making a list in November and I hope to bring the RCMP Coastal Watch program to Bowen Island. They do checks on the waterways."
Cpl. Joyce is in contact with two auxilliary constables from Surrey who have access to a boat and are eager to help. "My colleagues would be willing to come out to Bowen. I assume we would be checking for boaters to make sure everyone complies with regulations. And we would assist people on the water."
Cpl. Joyce knows about the importance of teamwork. "Recently, I held a community policing position where I supervised eight constables," she said. "I did a lot of different project work. When community members came to us with their problems, we had to look at the situations and prioritize them. We had to address the most urgent issues first, the issues that created the biggest problems."
Cpl. Joyce thinks that the neighbourhood outreach component of that work is something that can also be applied to Bowen Island.