New Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Chief Bill Janes doesn’t come from blue blood — having no family members on the force — but he knew as a teenager that being a police officer was the career for him.
Fortunately, at the time, there was a recruitment drive on.
“I did become aware the RNC was hiring. I saw it as an interesting and exciting career,” Janes said.
“I saw an opportunity to do a variety of different things.”
In an interview at the Public Service Commission, Janes said he wanted to influence lives and help people.
“(The interviewer) looked at me and said, ‘I’m really glad you said that,’” he recalled.
Janes joined the force in 1985 and, after his stint as a patrol officer, went on to work in criminal investigation, the joint forces drug section, the tactics and rescue unit and the public order unit.
After 17 years on the job, he competed for a supervisor’s position.
Janes was named a deputy chief in 2010 and this month became the 21st chief following the retirement of Bob Johnston.
“I was very humbled by the experience. I thought, what an honour and privilege to serve the members of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary and people of our province in this role,” Janes said.
What is your full name?
William Joseph Janes.
Where and when were you born?
May 1964 in St. John’s.
Where is home today?
East end of St. John’s. I have lived there most of my life.
What’s one act of rebellion you committed in your youth?
I guess the first thing that would come to mind is after attending university for one year, I dropped out. I did follow up 30 years later. I convocated in fall 2012 after dropping out of university at a young age. My major is in police studies and a minor in business.
What was your favourite year?
In 1993, my son Adam was born and in 2001, my daughter Sarah. I think there is nothing more significant in our lives than the birth of our children.
If you were a fictional character, who would you be?
That was picked for me. Myself and my wife, Colleen, we were on holiday in Mexico in 1990, and when we would visit the market, a six-foot-four tall Caucasian male — they hadn’t seen many of them, and they nicknamed me Superman. That’s what the locals used to call me.
If you had a theme song, what would it be?
I would say I am a very proud Newfoundlander and Labradorian, so a song that stands out to me is called “The Islander” by The Navigators and it speaks about being very proud of our province.
If you could visit or live in another time, when would that be and why?
Recently I joined the RNC Historical Society and if I went back to the 1930s, I could spend some time with my grandparents on my mother’s side and my grandparents on my father’s side and have a conversation with them and experience what Newfoundland was like at that time. It think that would be a very interesting to meet them at a young age.
What is the coolest thing you have ever done?
A question about me being cool — I think a lot of people would think that is very funny. In 1996 and 2003, I was a member of rowing crews that won the St. John’s Regatta men’s championships. Last year was my last year. I decided to give it up for a little while, but I did it for 25 years.
What is the strangest thing that has ever happened to you?
My daughter Sarah is going to laugh at this one. We were on a boat tour out of Bay Bulls when I got struck by a projectile from a puffin. My daughter thought that was hilarious. (What kind of projectile?) We’ll call it puffin droppings.
Do you have any hidden talents?
I think I have an ability to make people laugh, like situational humour.
Who inspires you?
Definitely my wife, Colleen. She is a beautiful, strong, intelligent woman and she inspires me to be the best partner for her.
If you had not joined the police force, what job would you be doing?
I have been really interested in emergency management. I’ve spent some time studying emergency management and been involved in some mock disasters. That would be another career that would really suit me.
What is the toughest thing about your job?
I think it would be working with victims of crime, particularly children and vulnerable people. It is the toughest part, but at the same time it can be the most rewarding when you can help someone through one of the toughest moments of their life.
How has policing in the province and particularly metro changed since you were a new recruit?
There has been tremendous change. One of areas is globalization — policing now crosses provincial and national borders in terms of crime. There is a lot more specialization as well — things like computer forensics, forensic art, video forensics, generally advancing technology. As science and technology advance, generally, they also need to keep pace in policing.
(What about crime?)
I wouldn’t say it’s better or worse, but different. For instance, Internet child exploitation wasn’t an issue in 1985.
What’s the hardest case you’ve ever worked on?
I was a member of a major case management team called Operation Remedy. It was the investigation of a St. John’s physician who was subsequently charged with sexual assault and drug trafficking and he was convicted and given a lengthy sentence. It was very challenging because you had to deal with patient-doctor confidentiality. It was a challenging case, but the team was successful.
What’s the proudest moment of your career?
I worked as a part of a tactics and rescue unit with the RNC. I can remember there being a team put together dealing with armed robberies in the city. There were a group of young men who had a handgun and they were doing some armed robberies, so there was a team put together to investigate those incidents, led by Insp. Craig Kenney at the time, of 30 or 40 officers. My role was with the tactics and rescue unit. There was an armed robbery in progress that the surveillance officers picked up on on Ropewalk Lane. I was part of the team that made the arrest of the accused. What was great was the large team of officers working together and having great communication. To have that kind of success, I remember as a very memorable moment.
What’s the thing you would most like to change about the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary?
I think the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary has had tremendous success and I think my main job today would be to sustain those current successes. At the same time, we will be looking to build a corporate plan and we need to gather all the information to know for sure what it is we need to move forward or change. So it’s too early to say that.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Certainly, I expect my career in policing to be finished by then. I have done work on boards of directors like the United Way and the John Howard Society and I really enjoy that. I’d say I will likely be giving back to the community somehow through some charitable organizations.
What is the one thing you would change about this province?
Right now I would increase the temperature by about 25 degrees Celsius. I think that would make me pretty popular around the province.