WATCH: When Victoria and Esquimalt battled over hiring six new police officers last year, the provincial government had to step in to solve the dispute. The province has now come out with its review of the situation and say like it or not, the new officers are a must. April Lawrence explains.
The province’s police services director has ordered that Victoria and Esquimalt must hire six new police officers that were not hired last year due to budget cuts.
In a letter to Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins and Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps, Executive Director of Police Services Tonia Enger wrote “when resource pressures exceed available personnel, what greatly suffers first is the proactive and preventative work.”
“In my view, such work is not a ‘nice to have’ but is, in fact, a necessity,”
Last year, Esquimalt council votes 4-3 against spending $40,778 for the cost of hiring additional VicPD officers. Esquimalt covers 15 per cent of VicPD costs. Victoria council voted in favour of a $528,000 increase to the police budget for six officers.
At the time, some Esquimalt councillors said they did not support the increase as quarterly police statistics showed reductions in calls and crime rates.
In response, VicPD Chief Del Manak redeployed all three school liaison officers, one community services officer, one intelligence officer and one reservice constable to patrol duty.
Esquimalt council and the police board made separate applications to the province of whether the addition of six police officers should be included in the 2018 provisional budget.
Enger said in her letter that the six officers requested should be in the VicPD budget but that the deployment of the six police officers “must include allocation of dedicated resources to meet the service delivery needs of Esquimalt without regard to the demands driven by the downtown core and to ensure consistency with the framework agreement.”
However, Enger also wrote that when sifting through the deliberations Esquimalt was required to make in response to the request for additional resources, “there was not sufficient communication as to how those resources aligned with community needs, the framework agreement or what the value proposition was for the community.”
“I have come to the conclusion that, despite efforts undertaken by the police board and VicPDleadsership, these matters were not effectively addressed.”
Esquimalt has not voted on the police budget for this year but Victoria council voted 5-3 to limit the police department to an increase of about $1.8 million on its nearly $54 million budget. The police department had asked for an increase of about six per cent on its budget.
With files from Bill Cleverley, Times Colonist