He’s one of the hardest working cops you probably never knew about.
For 20 years, Supt. Lorne Pike led the Delta Police Department’s investigations bureau, responsible for everything from drugs and robberies to sexual assaults and homicides. Last week he hung up his hat for the final time, retiring after more than 30 years with the local force.
Before becoming a police officer, Pike served as a master corporal in the Royal Westminster Regiment from 1976 to 1984 and worked security detail at the 1976 Montreal Olympics, which he calls a highlight of his life.
Starting his police career
Policing came calling for Pike following his distinguished military career.
“A military friend asked me whether I wanted to join the Delta Police Department. We were both contemplating policing careers and I was actually focusing on RCMP,” said Pike. “I never knew Delta because I lived back east, but nevertheless I joined the reserves here in Delta at the end of 1984. I applied for a full position and went to the academy in 1986.”
Pike can still remember his first shift.
“My first day on the job was Boxing Day with then Const. Lyle Beaudoin, who was my training officer. We went to a family dispute and it actually was a boxing day. We arrested this guy after a huge physical altercation.”
He credits many senior officers as great influences on his career.
“I wanted to become a dog man, but S/Sgt. Gary Boyer said no way. You’re an investigator – you don’t chase after people with dogs,” Pike recalled. “I guess he saw things in me through my investigations and reports that I wasn’t seeing. I owe so much to Gary for steering me down the right path.”
He was assigned to the major crimes unit in 1999 and worked his way through the ranks, promoted to staff sergeant, inspector and finally superintendent.
Pike has led investigative teams on some of the highest profile cases in the department’s history.
One of those was the Alexa Middelaer impaired driving investigation where Pike and the team used an undercover operation to obtain a confession, the first -- and the DPD believe only -- undercover operation in an impaired driving investigation in Canada.
Other notable cases were the Jeffrey Sabine homicide in 2006, where his common-law wife was convicted of first-degree murder, and the murder of Delta teacher Gary Sidhu in 2002 where four first-degree convictions were secured.
But probably the biggest case, and the one most personal and satisfying to Pike, is the Laura Szendrei homicide, where a first-degree murder conviction was secured in the death of the North Delta teenager back in 2010.
“That was a brutal case. We rode a rollercoaster for sure,” Pike recalled. “Our first real lead, we thought we had it. We had a vehicle of interest, motive, weapon, everything and secured the arrest. Half an hour later he was cleared, it wasn’t him.”
To say Pike and his team were devastated would be an understatement.
“That was the day before the Thanksgiving long weekend. I sent everyone home. We were just deflated. We figured we had this in the bag. I went home and over those three days I asked myself how do I get these guys motivated again?”
Pike said he had about 40 investigators at that time. After the long weekend he placed them all in a room and played Laura’s celebration of life CD.
“There wasn’t one dry eye in the place, including mine. I told them that’s why we do what we do. This is why we are committed to solving this case.
“I think this was a turning point. It was hard pill to swallow, but it became personal and re-motivated everyone. Our heart was in it and the passion to move forward and we eventually got there. The comradery to get to that point and the personal satisfaction that we found justice was pretty amazing.”
Pike said these high-profile cases take a toll on investigators as they get emotionally attached very quickly.
“There is a lot of public pressure for justice and that’s understandable, but it’s not only me, it’s the team,” he said. “I had a lot of members that were passionate about what they did for a living and without that team, that buy-in, commitment and perseverance, these cases wouldn’t be successful.
“There are a lot of times where you make personal sacrifices and you skip family barbecues and gatherings to be committed to the job that we do. That’s why we are so successful here in Delta – it’s not one individual, it’s a whole team of people.”
Impacts on policing
Pike has not only had great impacts on the DPD, but on policing in general. He helped change federal case law after testifying in the R v. Ashmore homicide trial for almost three weeks. Pike defended his interrogation strategies of a murder suspect, who ultimately confessed to his role in the crime.
The new case law overturned earlier case law that limited the actions of police during interviews.
Pike is an accredited RCMP Team Commander and serves on both the Team Commander Accreditation Board and the Team Commander Best Practices Committee. In addition, he serves on the Forensics Lab Committee and has served as co-chair of the BC Municipal Undercover Program.
“Lorne has dedicated more than 30 years to the people of Delta. He’s an outstanding investigator, and under his leadership the investigative bureau has a success rate at solving homicides that would be envied by any other North American police department,” said Chief Neil Dubord.
“He’s an innovative thinker who loves nothing more than to figure out who did it. But he’s also the first to say that teamwork is what really makes the difference in solving these files. He’s leaving our investigative bureau in very good hands with a skilled team of professionals to carry on.”
Pike has received a 30-year Exemplary Service Bar, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal and has been awarded the Member of the Order of Merit of the Police Forces – a distinction granted to him by the Governor General of Canada.
Pike said he will miss the high-profile investigations and the opportunity to employ creative investigative techniques.
“I’ll miss the comradery of my co-workers. It’s bittersweet. I’m looking forward to my retirement, but I’ll miss the investigations – that’s my passion,” he said.
“If I had another good 20 years I would stick around, but it’s time. Around March I got that feeling. I just knew it was time. As time draws near you can’t wait for the day to come. It’s a new part of my life. It’s what I have been working so hard for these many years.”
He said he plans to spend more time with family and friends, including some world travel and, of course, getting to the often forgotten honey do list that has been compiled by his wife.
“There have been good moments and bad moments, but I can honestly say there was never a day that I dreaded coming to work,” he said.