The largest municipality in Greater Victoria is moving closer to joining the Island’s major crimes investigation team.
Saanich police are in talks to join the Vancouver Island Integrated Major Crime Unit, Sgt. Dean Jantzen said last week.
“We’re in discussions, and they’re positive. Our intention is to move forward with a view to join in the near future,” Jantzen said.
Details of the agreement are still being ironed out, and the final say rests in the hands of the Saanich police board. Considerations include how many officers Saanich would contribute to the squad and what kind of financial commitment they would make.
It’s a shift in outlook for the department, which has to this point chosen to handle homicide investigations in Saanich on its own, but Jantzen said it’s more of an evolution than anything.
“There’s been no dramatic change in philosophy … We’ve reviewed this on a yearly basis since (the unit’s) inception,” he said. “We now believe the factors exist where there is a net benefit to our community.”
Oak Bay police are also involved in the discussions, as they currently have an agreement in place which sees Saanich cops investigating major crimes in that municipality.
Eighteen officers currently make up the integrated unit. Six come from Victoria, two from the West Shore RCMP, and the remaining 10 are from various Island RCMP detachments.
Jantzen added that the decision doesn’t have any connection to talk of a regional police force, something which Victoria police are advocating in a strategic plan unveiled last week, and to which Saanich remains opposed.
“It’s not linked to any one incident, or any initiative on behalf of government or any other organization,” he said. “We review integrated opportunities as they come up all the time. We consider them at face value.”
There is no timeline for when the potential partnership could be formalized, but “discussions are fruitful and we’re working towards it sooner rather than later,” Jantzen added.