Who would have thought that a rock drummer, pounding away on his kit trying to make his way as a musician playing the club scene in Montreal in the late 90s and early 2000s, would end up being the public face of the West Shore RCMP in Langford in 2015?
Const. Alexandre Berube wouldn’t have, if you’d have asked him back when he was trying to become the next Lars Ulrich.
Unlike all young boys who go through phases of wanting to be firefighters, police officers, doctors or members of other helpful (or heroic) professions, Berube’s phase never truly went away, despite – or perhaps because of – his foray into the Montreal music scene.
“If I could have made a serious living as a musician, who knows where I would be right now?” he says, laughing. He recounts the story of meeting one of his father’s friends – a police officer – as a child, and thinking, “His job looks so cool. That’s what I want to do.”
It turned out policing came quite naturally to Berube, since his natural state is one of caring, community and helping those around him in whatever way he can.
His career in law enforcement began with five years of police studies in Ottawa and Montreal, followed by a stint with the City of Montreal as a public security inspector. He dealt with bylaws and inspections, but also with motor vehicle crashes and the like, for five years before joining up with the RCMP.
When he got through the Regina academy, where all new RCMP officers go for training, he thought they were lying to him when they told him five years ago his first assignment would be on the West Shore of Greater Victoria and told him the coldest he should expect is about -5 C.
“To me, winter was always about the cold and the snow,” he says, adding he got lucky, because it turns out he truly loves it here.
So just who is Const. Alexandre Berube?
He travelled throughout the globe for much of his childhood. The son of an international consultant in food technology with the government of Quebec, whenever his father was dispatched on long projects, he would bring the whole family. Berube spent a year of primary school in Brazil, studying in Portuguese, and another in Pakistan. This travel and engagement with different cultures – often in developing areas of the world – gave him a special affinity for those among us in need of assistance and those on the margins of society.
“I’m also a very genuine person … I will call a duck a duck and I will call an apple an apple,” he says, a fitting character trait for his new RCMP role.
Berube says he’s always believed the role of the RCMP is to serve the public, but notes it’s a two-way street in terms of public engagement playing an important role in the safety and security of a community. A well-informed community is one that is happier and more able to function, and part of that functioning is watching out for its citizens, he says.
“In this role, in dealing with the media, if there are things I can’t share – because obviously there will sometimes be things I can’t share – I will tell you why. I’m not just going to say ‘no comment.’ I think it’s important for the public to know why we’re not releasing information. Ultimately, we need their assistance to do our job, so it’s important that they trust us and part of that is knowing why we’re doing what we’re doing.”
On the flip side of that coin, he wants the public to know the success of police work is directly tied to the public’s engagement with the department. He used the recent example of a concerned citizen calling in suspicious activity that led to Mounties catching a burglary in progress at a home in Colwood and the arrests of three of four suspects.
“We’re not asking for people to just stare out their windows looking for crime,” he says, “but it’s unreasonable to think we can have a cruiser on every corner or be everywhere. So if people will keep an eye out for each other and tell us when we need to help, we’ll be more successful in protecting the community.”
Out of uniform, Berube and his wife, their three year-old son and his 10 year-old stepson enjoy simply being outdoors. “We have the forests and the ocean and the mountains all at our doorstep. Even being able to just go down to the beach and throw rocks at the water is something to take advantage of.”
He solemnly admits, hanging his head slightly, that he doesn’t have the room full of musical instruments anymore – he just doesn’t have the time to devote to it – but perks up as he pictures his three-year-old playing with the toy saxophone he received for Christmas.
“Hopefully he’ll pick up some of my love for music and have an affinity for it, as well,” he smiles. “He just loves that thing.”