shredding his inhibitions
still from "Coolest Cop Ever"
Sokoloski has unintentionally become an internet sensation. A video of him in uniform and jamming with campers at Dutch Creek (shown here and elsewhere last week) has gone viral on YouTube, and the story has been picked up by national and international press organizations. Sokoloski was on vacation at the time, but granted me an interview earlier today.
"My former tour was a Fish and Wildlife Officer in Saskatchewan," said Sokoloski. "You didn't take the enforcement approach there, it was a more educational component. You went out and you mixed and mingled with the people. What I do now isn't really any different."
When asked how rural Alberta compared to rural Saskatchewan, he said "As far as the people go, very, very similar. (The people have nice rural roots. You get back from the people what you put out. If you're open and approachable, it makes a huge difference."
Of the incident immortalized on YouTube he said "I took an opportunity. Not a whole lot different from driving down a residential street and there is a bunch of kids playing road hockey. You get out of the car, you grab a stick go take few shots, and score a goal or two. A pick-up basketball game, anything like that. We go into the schools, bike rodeo, and chat with kids. Those are all things that I know given the time our members are all able to do that. I'm not unique."
Sokoloski explained that the the MD of Pincher Creek No. 9 has a contract with the RCMP for specific kinds of policing. "What it means is that I don't have to deal with all the 911 calls, emergency calls, the complaint calls. I can get out and do traffic calls and the special public events. I have the time to talk to the local landowners, go to different meetings. That really is a huge public relations boost."
When fame came knocking he was on vacation. "I have had people send me links from Edmonton, Regina, Toronto, it's been on CBC National news. I have been off work for a few days, and when I came in I had 159 emails in my work email."
Rock 'n roll duty comes naturally to the Constable, who is a veteran of the 80's Saskatchewan bar-band scene.
About his band in the 80s. "It was a different era, and a lot cheaper to live. From '81 to '88 I played in various bands, mostly "Shyboy", he explained. "Very talented guys, most went on to be professional musicians. The bass player is in Europe, he went on to play in a band that supported Judas Priest. Different world back then. You didn't have the internet, you didn't have social networking, so the bar would be the place to go to even on a Monday night. A lot of fun."
I asked him if he'd read the many comments on YouTube, on this site, and on various other sites. "I haven't been reading them, but some people have been telling me a few things," he said.
He then read an anonymous comment on the Pincher Creek Voice that said "According to my wife's grandfather who homesteaded in Saskatchewan it was customary that a Force member would ride into your farm house just to say hello and check to see whether or not everyone was okay. As a long retired member I know that to be true.An approach such as that is refreshing in this day and age. Kudos to Constable Doug."
"You get a lot of that sort of stuff, and it's not the members, it is the time factor," he responded. "Court process is incredibly complex, and you have to be accountable for everything."
By the time he has are done a simple shoplifting report, he said he has made an approximately 50 page document to go to various parties for review and filing. A large part of the time that is spent now is on record keeping. "That's the biggest issue."
Regarding a comment about the vest he wore in the video as part of his uniform he said "When we are out, away from the office we are required by our policy to wear a complete duty belt that includes gun, pepper spray, baton, radio, handcuffs and we must wear our ballistic vest. I choose to wear mine over my shirt."
"It's no different than a hockey player. You can't go out on the ice with out a helmet and a face mask. You've got to meet the requirements."
He spoke passionately about the importance of the work he does. "What would our society be, without police? If there was no risk of getting caught, and you could do whatever you want?"
The fact is that he happens to be a musician and chose to interact with his skills has been met with nothing but positive feedback from those above him in the chain of command, according to Sokoloski.
Of the video itself he said "It wasn't a great performance. From a musicians point of view, its fun to sit down. No bass player, no singer, no coordination, just pick up and jam for five minutes. It was fun. " He said that when he went to leave he told the campers "Have a good day guys, and pick up your stuff and leave the site as it was when you got here, and have a good weekend."
"I hope this helps the world of policing and makes it easier for our members. Its a tough job, and you don't get a lot of accolades for the good things you do."
"Members across the country do thousands of good things a day and it goes unnoticed," he concluded.