McPhail to lead corridor police 

RCMP reorganization will help with communications, Olympic security

Keeping every police officer from Bowen Island to Pemberton on the information highway is now the responsibility of Whistler’s Insp. Norman McPhail.

Formerly staff sergeant for the Whistler-Pemberton detachment, McPhail was promoted last week to the newly created position.

As officer in charge of Sea to Sky regional policing, McPhail will not only liaise between the area’s four district councils to facilitate a comprehensive communications strategy, but will also help to plan and implement a communications and security plan for Whistler’s 2010 Winter Olympic venues.

"It’s a fairly big change," McPhail said. "But the whole spirit of it is to further integrate the working relationships between all the police agencies, building in a 2010 component."

Acting mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morton described McPhail’s new position as "a significant promotion" at this week’s council meeting. She cited McPhail as a valued member of the local detachment and noted that "congratulations are in order" to the inspector, who has had several postings in Whistler.

The 24-year veteran will supervise implementation of a records management system, Prime B.C., that will allow officers from the region to access information quickly about crimes in progress.

By September patrol cars in all four districts, Squamish, Bowen Island, Pemberton and Whistler, will be equipped with lap-top computers so that when a call comes in information will be quickly available onscreen.

"If an officer is out in a car and a crime is committed and there is a photograph available it will be immediately accessible to any officer in the Sea to Sky corridor," McPhail said.

The inspector will also work with district administrators and councils to devise a communications strategy so when complicated accidents occur on Highway 99 travellers can receive up-to-the-minute information.

"So that when we say the road will be closed for six hours that live time estimate will be respected."

Earlier this year poor communications caused an uproar after a fatal motorcycle accident near Porteau Cove left travellers stranded for up to seven hours, although repeated bulletins had indicated traffic would be cleared sooner.

McPhail said when similar accidents occur in future additional RCMP media relations personnel will be assigned to the scene and will liaise with designated media outlets to keep the public informed.

Planning a communications and security strategy for 2010 Winter Olympics regional venues will also be part of McPhail’s duties. Communities will be kept abreast of what extra security will be like to live with by conducting test run events in the time leading up to 2010. "This will ensure all the bugs are worked out before we go live to the Games," McPhail said.

In addition to Insp. McPhail’s shift in duties, other changes include Cst. Ann-Marie Gallop being named as community policing and media relations officer for the Whistler-Pemberton detachment. The previous media relations officer, Cst. Devon Jones, returns to general duty.

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