DISCOVER POLICING FROM A CUSTODIAN’S PERSPECTIVE
Custody. It’s an interesting word. As it applies to policing, the word “custody” relates to a person who is detained or held under guard. For custodians, however, the word means “taking care.”
And for David Yee, whose face lights up with enthusiasm and pride when he talks about how much he loves his job as the North Bay Police Service’s maintenance supervisor, the word specifically means taking care of the building, the grounds and the interior spaces of police headquarters on Princess Street West.
The public may remember seeing David’s face in a recent North Bay Hydro mailing and promotional video about the installation of new energy-efficient heating, ventilation and air conditioning units at police headquarters.
As the North Bay Police Service joins police services across the province to celebrate Police Week this week, and in keeping with this year’s theme Discover Policing for Safer Communities, we invited David to share his experiences with the public by answering the questions below.
When did you start working for the North Bay Police Service?
18 years ago.
What attracted you to the job?
I knew my past experience made me qualified for the job and I liked the idea of being responsible for one building.
Why do you think you got the job?
I had 10 years of experience working in carpentry, concrete, plumbing and electrical. Also, I used to do similar work for the YMCA.
Take us through a typical day in your role. What do you do?
I am responsible for everything from heating, ventilation, air conditioning, electricity and plumbing, to hanging pictures, moving furniture, setting up tables and chairs for events or other equipment for training sessions. The work also involves grass-cutting, snow removal, sweeping parking lots, waxing floors, garbage collection, recycling and shredding, disinfecting holding cells, you name it. Apart from the regular maintenance schedule, I’ll get five to 15 calls per day for specific requests from staff. But I have to say, I rely on the work of one part-time and one full-time custodian to help me keep this place in order. Keep in mind we’re open 24/7. We’re a great team and I couldn’t do this without them.
What surprised you about the field of policing that you didn’t know before you were hired?
I was shocked by the number of people who are arrested and end up in our holding cells. I didn’t realize there was so much activity in here. …/2
What do you like about your job?
Every day here is different. People think I’m exaggerating when I say this but I love my job. Every part of it. I haven’t missed a day in 18 years. All police officers who work the Sergeant’s desk know that they can reach out to me on any day of the week and at any time of the day for any urgent building call and I’ll be there for them in a heartbeat.
What’s the most challenging part of your job?
I’m not as young as I used to be. (David smiled when he said this.)
Public safety is a shared responsibility. From your experience in your current role, what one safety message would you like to give to the public?
Stay off your cell phones when driving! I see it all the time. Drivers need to concentrate on the road.
What’s the one thing most people don’t know about your job?
Public health is taken very seriously here. Most people probably don’t know that I, and other maintenance staff, have to get fully clothed in protective gear to clean and disinfect our holding cells. As well, most people probably don’t know that it is the responsibility of maintenance staff to collect bicycles, canoes, paddle boats, baby carriages and other things when police get calls about abandoned property. Every year the police service will sell items like these at a public auction, like the one we’re hosting on Saturday.
What words of advice would you give a teenager or a young adult who is interested in exploring a career like yours?
Do what you love. You won’t be happy if you’re only doing a job for money. You have to take pride in the work you do every day. That’s success.