Drumming cop says just another day at work

In this undated YouTube frame grab titled "Coolest cop ever playing drums in the woods" an RCMP officer plays some music with campers near Lethbridge, Alta.The video posted by a user who lives in Lethbridge in southern Alberta shows a group of friends camping in the woods with their band gear when a cop car pulls up. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ YouTube - HO

PINCHER CREEK, Alta. - An RCMP officer was driving down a forest access road in rural Alberta when he spotted something unusual among the trees — a drum set.

"That's not something you see every day," Const. Doug Sokoloski said in an interview Friday.

The Mountie got out of his patrol car and asked who owned the drums. A group of friends at Dutch Creek campground last Saturday apprehensively fessed up. They thought they'd done something wrong.

But Sokoloski surprised them.

"I said, 'Do you mind if I play?' and the guy said, 'Sure,' so I just hopped on and drummed out a couple of beats there. And then it just evolved that the guitar player came over and we had a little four or five minute jam session."

It might sound unusual to see a Mountie playing drums in the woods, but it wasn't strange for Sokoloski.

The 17-year veteran of the force says he is a guitarist who used to rock bars in Saskatchewan in the '80s with a band called "Shy Boy." Occasionally, he picked up the drum sticks.

"Music was part of my life back then and we evolved from being a basement-garage style band into a pretty decent, class A bar band in Western Canada," he recalled.

"It was good fun for six or seven years."

Sokoloski says the jam session in the woods was just another day at work.

"Any way that you can interact with people in a positive way (is good). Like I said, I'm a musician and I certainly don't mind sitting down and chatting about music with people and this just happened that the set of drums was out there, which you don't commonly see," he said.

"If I can help make their day better, make my day better, it's kind of fun."

It also helps the force's image at a time when there are negative news stories.

It was reported Thursday that Mounties in British Columbia have launched a code-of-conduct investigation after "graphic, staged photos" of an RCMP officer were posted on the Internet. The photos include images of bondage and torture, and some are sexually explicit.

Sokoloski said officers do a lot of good work across the country, but it can be overshadowed.

"I guess if there's anything positive to come out of this, I just hope that it helps to enhance the image of the world of policing because like I said, it's a tough job. I've been doing it for a lot of years," he said.

"We do a lot of good things and rarely get any kind of recognition for it."

One of the campers caught Sokoloski's performance on video and posted it on YouTube. The video entitled "Coolest Cop Ever Playing Drums in the Woods" had more than 256,000 hits by Friday afternoon.

There also hundreds of comments, the majority of them positive.

One user named bored1980 said: "This is (the) sort of video we need to see more of. Normal, everyday police interacting with normal, everyday people. Nice one!"

Sokoloski took all the attention in stride.

"I was thinking back to when I was to playing actively in rock bands in the '80s. If we had had that kind of potential response, I would have been a millionaire," he laughed.

If the group wants to get together to jam again, Sokoloski said he'll bring his own guitar and amp.

— By Jennifer Graham in Regina