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Familiar face takes over as new RCMP commander

The new commander of the Whistler RCMP is no stranger to Whistler.

Staff Sergeant Norm McPhail, who is due to take over the Whistler detachment by the end of the summer, will be coming back for his third tour of duty in the resort.

"I can’t get enough of Whistler!" joked McPhail from his Nelson office this week.

"I like the environment. I like the pace. It’s a nice busy, progressive place. There’s lots of interesting work (and a) diversity of people to know. It’s really nice in terms of the exposure you get to the international clients. There’s always lots going on in Whistler. It’s a positive place to be."

McPhail will be replacing Staff Sergeant Hilton Haider as the detachment commander in Whistler.

Haider has accepted a position in the Lower Mainland and will be in charge of operations in the Ridge Meadows detachment in the Lower Mainland.

It was only 18 months ago when McPhail was last working in Whistler, in charge of operations under Haider.

He left that position in January 2003 for a promotion to staff sergeant as the West Kootenay Boundary Advisor to the District Officer in Kelowna. In that capacity he is responsible for nine detachments, including Nelson, Trail and Castlegar.

He also manages the district office in Nelson with its various support units, from the police dog service to border integrity and drugs.

McPhail said he is looking forward to his new posting in Whistler.

"I hope to do a good job for the community," he said.

"I hope to deal with whatever the priority policing issues are at the time. A lot of the time the issues, from what I historically remember, are problems with alcohol consumption, or over consumption, noise in the village, those types of things. There is (also) some concern in terms of drugs."

As commander of the Whistler detachment, McPhail will be in charge of the Pemberton detachment too. The two detachments amalgamated when McPhail was last working in Whistler.

"I worked on that with Hilton Haider when it became an integrated detachment for Whistler/Pemberton and I’m aware of some of the policing issues out there as well," said McPhail.

McPhail has worked at various posting since graduating from the RCMP in 1982.

His first job was in Richmond where he worked for six years in the drug section and in serious crimes.

He next moved to Whistler as a young constable. From 1988 to 1992 McPhail witnessed Whistler’s growth spurt first hand. The detachment at that time was only nine members strong and very busy recalled McPhail.

Since then it has tripled in size; currently there are 28 members.

McPhail has also been posted to the Courtenay-Comox detachment, followed by a posting in the Port Hardy detachment.

McPhail and his family will be coming back to Whistler pending the sale of their house in the Nelson area.

"It is my desire to provide the citizens of Whistler with a responsive and accountable policing service, which holds public safety as our highest goal," he said.

"I am looking forward to once again work with our policing partners."

McPhail admits it will also be exciting to be a part of Olympic planning for the 2010 Winter Games.

His two children, 13-year-old Jacob and 10-year-old Emily, are keen to come back to Whistler to meet up with old friends from Myrtle Philip school.

Seeing old friends again is also a pull for McPhail and his wife Kelly.

"We have established friends within the community of Whistler as well," he said.

"It’s going to be nice to go back."