The Victoria Police Department is requesting over $57 million for their 2019 budget from the City of Victoria and the Township of Esquimalt.
The total would fund updated operating costs, including continued work fighting cyber crime and adjusting to new policies, such as legalized cannabis. It would begin to pay for 11 requested additional officers and one civilian staff member, who could come in over the next three years.
“It’s important for our community to realize that they’re growing, that their needs are more than ever and that policing is becoming more complex, and crime is becoming more complex,” said Chief Const. Del Manak. “In addition, we haven’t had a staff increase since 2010… It’s unrealistic, you’ve got to grow your services with your community.”
In 2017 the VicPD requested funding for six additional officers, which was denied by Esquimalt twice.
Victoria Police took the request to the province for review. The province has the power to overpower the municipal decision, but an answer is not expected until spring 2019.
Since then, police senior management identified that an additional five officers, and one civilian staff member would be necessary to meet growing community needs.
Four of these officers would be part of a new Community Response Team, which would focus on Victoria’s downtown area.
“They would help us respond to the growing need from the community where people feel that there is crime and victimization in and around our most vulnerable populations,” Manak said. “The officers could be on foot, visible, and be responsive.”
These new officers would be able to work in uniform and plainclothes, and potentially be involved in investigations surrounding local drug dealers and gangs.
The fifth officer would work with Esquimalt’s traffic enforcement team where residents have been complaining of impaired or distracted drivers.
One civilian staff member would work as an information management analyst, who would be responsible for collecting, managing and mining data in the Victoria Police Department.
“We need a higher degree of transparency and timeliness for the public, media and community,” Manak said. “The public don’t just don’t want that information quick, they want it accurate.”
VicPD has presented this budget in a joint meeting between the police board, Victoria City Council and Esquimalt Council, and will now proceed to make separate presentations to each municipality starting next week, with any final decisions coming place in early 2019.
When asked if he feels the budget will be rejected once again, Manak was uncertain.
“It’s hard to say; since the election there’s been a change in council and councillors,” he said. “Public safety is important; policing is an investment, and I think it’s important to recognize that the community feels safe and that residents and neighbours are feeling well supported.”
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