ATHABASCA — There’s a new city-county boy driving around Athabasca County enforcing the bylaws.
Jason Ollie, 38, spent his formative years growing up in Lacombe County, but spent most of his adult life in Edmonton, so while he appreciates the warm welcome he’s received, he's still adjusting to life in Athabasca County, and getting used to a slightly slower pace without the the hustle and bustle of the city.
“Just moving from one area where you've done the majority of your growing up and family and friends and settled in with a whole bunch of other things," Ollie said in a July 25 interview. "Uprooting and going somewhere else to try and rebuild all that like the doctor and then your chiropractor, your favourite places to eat, just silly things like that.”
Taking the job as of July 4 with Athabasca County is the next step in his career, he said, which started out in security.
“So, soon as I turned 18, I got into the tree, so to speak, of law enforcement,” he said. “Starting at the lowest branch working security at a mall and then just slowly making my way up doing parking enforcement and close protection stuff, working in numerous bars in Edmonton.”
Deep down the desire to help people, like he had been helped, is what drew him to climb the tree.
“Without sounding incredibly cliché, I like being able to help those who necessarily can't help themselves. People go through struggles every day and you never know anybody else's story and what they're going through," said Ollie. “I've definitely had my share growing up and I was fortunate to have a couple moments where I had that help in my situations from police officers, people in law enforcement, so it just really felt right.”
Being someone people can count on is something he models both on and off the job, helping coach his daughter’s baseball team, taking time to read to kids in school, volunteering in the community, and more.
“Everybody says that it's a selfless act, it's a complete lie, it's absolutely selfish, because it makes me feel better,” he said.
For now, he will be a bylaw enforcement officer until his community peace officer (CPO) appointment from the provincial government arrives in a few weeks, and he’s learning the Athabasca County map, a substantial change from patrolling six city blocks.
“I've been travelling quite a bit here over the last few weeks, some with (CPO) Kevin (Rowan) and then some by myself just to get familiar,” Ollie said. “It is incredibly huge and then some of the places that you go to visit, blink you miss it.”
If you see him out patrolling, be sure to wave and say hello.
“I'm excited to get out there and engage with the community,” he said.