Vic­to­ria po­lice chief says dis­patch calls on pri­or­ity ba­sis

The Prince George Citizen - - Local - Dirk MEISSNER

Vic­to­ria’s chief con­sta­ble says bud­get re­straints and staff short­ages are forc­ing his de­part­ment to pri­or­i­tize how, when and if it will re­spond to calls for help from the pub­lic.

Del Manak said Wednes­day the Vic­to­ria Po­lice De­part­ment plans to trans­form its ser­vice pri­or­i­ties af­ter Vic­to­ria and Esquimalt coun­cils couldn’t be con­vinced to in­crease the po­lice bud­get.

Vic­to­ria Mayor Lisa Helps saluted the chief’s com­ments, say­ing cost pres­sures are a re­al­ity across Canada and the de­part­ment’s ef­forts to re­form its de­liv­ery of ser­vices could be­come a model for other po­lice forces.

“If you talk to any po­lice chief in this coun­try they would say we don’t have enough staff and we don’t have enough re­sources,” she said. “That is a fact of polic­ing in Canada in the 21st Cen­tury, with­out a doubt. I think the im­por­tance of this re­port is what kinds of out­comes do we want po­lice agen­cies to achieve.”

The Vic­to­ria and Esquimalt po­lice board re­leased a re­port Wednes­day out­lin­ing plans by the po­lice de­part­ment to trans­form its de­liv­ery of ser­vices and de­ploy­ment of re­sources to meet the statu­tory du­ties of pro­tect­ing life and prop­erty and en­forc­ing the law in the two com­mu­ni­ties.

Manak said ma­jor crimes like homi­cides, as­saults and rob­beries will still re­ceive top pri­or­ity at­ten­tion but pa­trols of lo­cal parks, re­sponses to neigh­bour­hood is­sues and an­swer­ing af­ter hours an­i­mal con­trol com­plaints could face de­lays.

“There’s no doubt there are go­ing to be sig­nif­i­cant changes in our re­sponse ca­pac­ity and in the abil­ity for us to ac­tu­ally fo­cus and re­spond to the calls we ac­tu­ally ought to re­spond to,” the chief said at a news con­fer­ence.

Manak said one of his of­fi­cers told him some non-emer­gency calls by cit­i­zens al­ready go unan­swered for days and the chief added that sit­u­a­tion is not likely to im­prove un­der the changes.

He said the de­part­ment is con­sid­er­ing ad­just­ing cur­rent pa­trol units, ap­point­ing spe­cial con­sta­bles, who don’t carry guns, to re­spond to lower pri­or­ity calls and elim­i­nat­ing po­lice li­ai­son of­fi­cers at lo­cal schools.

“I’m un­able to meet the need of our com­mu­ni­ties in the model we cur­rently have, so the fis­cal re­al­i­ties and the staffing short­ages have ba­si­cally forced us to look in­ter­nally at how we’re go­ing to be able to carry on and sus­tain cred­i­ble, ef­fec­tive re­spon­sive polic­ing in the 21st Cen­tury,” he said.

The de­part­ment’s full com­ple­ment of of­fi­cers is 249, but due to in­juries and job-re­lated leaves only 208 of­fi­cers are cur­rently on reg­u­lar duty, Manak said.

Helps, who is co-chair­woman of the po­lice board, said Vic­to­ria needs a new ap­proach to pro­vid­ing po­lice ser­vices.

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