Central Saanich Police Deputy Chief Les Sylven will be stepping up into the position of top cop this September when Chief Constable Paul Hames retires after 16 years on the job.
The Police Board made their decision March 12 to offer the position to Sylven, and he immediately accepted.
“It’s a little hard to believe still,” said Sylven. “It is an honour. This is such a great community, and the opportunity to continue serving here is really exciting.”
Sylven, 49, first began his career in policing with the RCMP in 1988 in Squamish and the Lower Mainland. He joined the Victoria Police Department in 1996 and after serving in various roles for 15 years, accepted his current position as Deputy Chief with the Central Saanich Department in 2011.
The promotion to Chief Constable comes hot on the heels of a recent prestigious honour: Sylven was invested into the Order of Merit of the Police Forces by Governor General David Johnson last year in recognition of his contribution to policing in Canada.
It’s that commitment to the highest standards of policing that Sylven plans on bringing to his new position.
“We’ve got a lot of challenges in policing in general, and the theme around a lot of it is trust and transparency,” he said.
Standards for dealing with missing persons and domestic violence, as well as how the police use force are top of mind for law enforcement in Central Saanich, and across the country, said Sylven.
“We have to be constantly checking to make sure that we are meeting the community’s expectations. It’s about making sure that the public has that confidence in us, because without that confidence, we can’t be effective at our job.”
Keeping on top of traffic safety and addiction issues on the Peninsula are also big topics for Sylven and Central Saanich, he said.
“We spend a lot of our time dealing with addiction-related issues,” he said, noting that both alcohol and drug intoxication are involved.
The Department will continue to work closely with the Sidney North Saanich RCMP and with the community to ensure the Peninsula is a safe and positive place to live, he said.
“The police officers and staff are all so excellent,” he said, adding that “Chief Hames has been in the role for 16 years now, and has done an excellent job leading the department. Those are some big shoes to fill. But I’m very excited about the future, and looking for more and more ways we can engage with the community.”
The Police Board is expected to announce the search process for the next Deputy Chief in the weeks to come.