Victoria Police Board wary of moving too fast on recommendations

Mediator's report on relationship between Esquimalt, VicPD and board prompts lengthy discussion

The Victoria Police Board will ask for help from the Police Services Division of the Ministry of Justice in moving forward with recommendations made in mediator Jean Greatbatch’s 34-page report, A Framework for Effectiveness released late last month.

“They’re the one group missing,” board member Joan Kotarski said during a July 10 discussion of the report, which outlined steps to improve the relationship between Esquimalt and the Victoria Police Department.

Police board members also encouraged the municipalities of Victoria and Esquimalt to formally request assistance.

“We’re certainly going to need the assistance from the provincial government on this,” agreed board chair, Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin. “The leadership by the province is going to have to continue.”

Under the Police Act, the Police Services Division is responsible for ensuring adequate and effective levels of policing and law enforcement through a variety of measures and oversights.

“I had some concerns with some of the things that are written in there, in terms of accuracy,” said board vice-chair, Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins. “They’re giving us four months to get this down right in the middle of the summer.”

It’s not fair to the municipalities or the board to “move forward with the warp speed that’s being asked,” she added –  The board came to a compromise and agreed to “accept in principle the inaccuracies” in the report cited by Desjardins and others.

“I think our job today is to receive the report,” said board member Karen Kesteloo. “The second part of our job is to develop a plan. We need to identify that we have a certain time frame.”

A deadline of Oct. 31 was given by Justice Minister Shirley Bond to have initial recommendations in place.

One recommendation called for a framework agreement for governance and funding of the department to be created by a leadership group including the mayors, Chief Const. Jamie Graham, key municipal staff, the police department comptroller and a member of the police board.

“I think there’s stuff in here we need to look at further to decide what we need to do,” said board member Lindalee Brougham. “Will we truly have a voice as we move forward? Because that’s been part of the frustration … we haven’t been part of the negotiations or the prior contract.”

The “do it right, not fast” method proposed by Brougham won out after an hour-long discussion.

The board, not always in agreement on the process, compromised to receive the report, request an appointment from Police Services, ask the two municipalities to make a similar request and meet as a board to develop a response to the report.

The board also identified Brougham and David Johns as possible appointees to that leadership group. A date was not set for the follow-up meeting.

Name change for board to match department name

Among mediator Jean Greatbatch’s recommendations to Justice Minister Shirley Bond was that the Victoria Police Board be renamed the Victoria & Esquimalt Police Board. Such a move would match the name change for the department and would be reflected in plans and budgeting for changing the department’s communications materials – plus car decals and uniform shoulder flashes – within six months.

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