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Meet Whistler's new top cop

Staff Sgt. Paul Hayes brings 17 years of policing experience to the role

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There's a saying that's always stuck with Whistler RCMP Staff Sgt. Paul Hayes.

"I heard a person say once that you can't arrest your way out of problems, and I'm a firm believer in that," said Hayes, the new head of the Whistler and Pemberton RCMP detachments. "There needs to be cooperation between the police and the community, and you can't have that without creating positive relationships."

The new head of the Whistler and Pemberton RCMP detachments is no stranger to forging community connections. Along with serving in Richmond and White Rock, Hayes has also worked in the Surrey RCMP's Diversity Outreach Program, and introduced new refugees arriving in Canada to a policing style many were unfamiliar with.

"The chance I had to input a positive view of police and Canada was huge for me," he said. "At the end of the day, I see the benefit in that kind of relationship building."

Hayes comes to the resort with a mixture of administrative and investigative experience that should serve him well in his new role. He takes over for Staff Sgt. Steve LeClair, who retired last summer after a nine-year stint at operations NCO for Whistler and Pemberton.

Growing up near Richmond, Hayes was an occasional visitor to Whistler, and recognizes the two levers driving the community: the locals and the visitors.

"It brings two very different policing styles, but at the same time, it comes back to wanting folks to feel safe and wanting folks to have fun and enjoy the community they're in. So I think that's probably the balancing act that I'm going to be playing over the next little while," he noted.

After only a month on the job, Hayes already had some ideas for how to tackle some of the major policing issues facing the community. Addressing highway safety, for instance, Hayes said "education and proactive enforcement" would be the go-to approach.

"Over the course of my tenure here, you'll see an increase in awareness of traffic safety. You'll also see us doing covert and overt traffic enforcement and traffic initiatives where we seek to look for those impaired drivers, excessive speeders and folks who are driving dangerously on that highway to try and reduce some of those crashes going on," he explained.

Prevention is also the name of the game when it comes to property theft, a common offence in a community teeming with expensive ski and bike gear. Part of that strategy will look at building on the success of Whistler RCMP's bait-bike program, as well as encouraging bike owners to sign up for 529 Garage, a community-based bike registration and recovery service.

Honing in on the "very small percentage" of offenders local police believe are responsible for the bulk of the property theft in the resort will also help Mounties get a leg up on property crime.

"Once we figure out who the players are, then we can have an intelligence-led focus on those individuals," Hayes said.

Ultimately, Whistler's top cop wants the community to know "I'm an approachable person at the detachment," he said. "In my previous experience, I've worked with a lot of community partners, organizations and various councils, and I found there was a huge benefit to knowing your community and the community knowing you."

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