Like most police officers, Chuck Mercier has had to deal with some horrendous crimes and issues during his 33 years as a police officer, but he’s quick to point out that ninety-eight percent of those he’s come in contact with are good people.
And it’s that ‘positive’ attitude that makes this longtime Port Perry resident and Deputy Chief of the Region of Durham Police Department special, not only to his family, but to his colleagues and friends.
DEPUTY CHIEF CHUCK MERCIER
Just how this handsome man, with the infectious smile, rose to such a powerful position in one of Ontario’s largest police departments is not a real mystery.
Chuck’s story starts in the northern Ontario town of Timmins where he was born more than 50 years ago. His father worked in the mines and his mother was a registered nurse, who had to give her career up to take care of eight children, six girls and two boys.
When Chuck was only five years old, the family moved to Elliot Lake after the mine closed down in Timmins. He attended school there and when he was 18 years old, applied to take the Law and Security Management course at Loyalist College in Belleville.
After graduating from college he attended the Ontario Police College in Aylmer, Ont., then accepted a job with Durham Regional Police in Oshawa. That was in 1977, and it was only 10 years later, at the age of 33, he moved from patrol assignments to the Criminal Investigations Branch of the department, a position he held for the next eleven years.
Seven of those years he spent with the Major Crime Unit, which included investigating murder, robbery and sexual assaults. It was during this tenure that Chuck was promoted from constable to detective, spending the past three years as Detective Sergeant in charge of the Major Crimes Unit.
But it wasn’t all work for Chuck. Not long after coming to Oshawa he was introduced to an attractive young nurse when he was attending the emergency room at the Oshawa General Hospital. Police officers frequent hospitals often during the course of duty and it was during one of these visits, some of the nurses arranged the meeting with Paula, Chuck recalls with a smile.
When he met Paula, he admits “it was kind of love at first sight.” In fact, less than a year later the two tied the knot and moved into a house in Oshawa that Chuck had bought a few years earlier.
Today the happy couple live in Port Perry, in a home they built in 1989. Here they have raised three boys and one girl, ranging in age from 13 to 25 years. ”We’re both small town people and love it here. It suited our personalities and was a great place to raise a family,” he says.
Marriage and family didn’t stop the young couple from pursuing their careers. Paula has continued with her nursing to this day.
Chuck’s next big opportunity came in 1997 when he was promoted to Inspector for North Durham, an area that includes Scugog, Brock and Uxbridge Townships.
This position brought him closer to home and during his three years in this capacity he’s proud to have been instrumental in overseeing the construction of the new police station located on Hwy. 12, just west of Port Perry.
He is also proud of the new staffing plan which was implemented during his term here in North Durham, which increased the number of police officers from 48 to 64 officers.
“We weren’t understaffed, but it was a time of growth in the north, and the added staff enabled us to enhance the services of our northern communities,” he said.
Three years after coming north, he received another promotion, this time to Superintendent in charge of crime management back in Oshawa. In this position he oversaw the duties of the Major Crime Unit and Intelligence Branch of the Durham Regional Police.
A year later, following the retirement of two deputy chiefs, Chuck successfully applied for one of the positions. He was promoted to the position of Deputy Chief of Administration, but a year and a half later he was transferred and became Deputy Chief of Policing Operation.
It’s this position, which he’s held since 2003 that he will officially retire from on December 31 this year.
Chuck has seen a lot in the more than three decades since he began as a rookie officer. Some of the more notable crimes he’s worked on include the Gagnon Sports murders in Oshawa in 1994, the Brink’s robbery at Knob Hill Farms in 1991 and the Port Perry bank robbery where three police officers were shot in October 1994.
Despite all his police work, Chuck has still found time to devote to his family and the community. He has been a tireless worker for a number of local causes, one of the most recent being the Special Olympics two years ago.
In addition he spent 18 years as a Scout leader with the Port Perry organization. “This gave me valuable time with my three sons,” he says.
So when Inspector Scott Burns is sworn in as the new Deputy Chief on December 14, Scugog will probably just get to see more of Chuck. “I have no immediate plans, but will continue volunteering in the community,” he says with his trademark smile.
As my interview with Deputy Chief Chuck Mercier came to an end, I couldn’t help but ask him a silly question. You know the one TV host Barbara Walters often asks her guests about ‘trees’.
So I asked him the question, “If you could be a tree what kind of tree would you want to be”?
A big smile formed on his friendly face and he answered without hesitation, “A giant oak! Big and strong,” he grinned.
We both laughed, shook hands and promised to get together soon to talk more.
I can’t wait, because it’s apparent there’s hundreds of stories Chuck is just waiting to tell a willing listener.
By J. Peter Hvidsten
Focus on Scugog