WATCH: Esquimalt High’s principal says she is shocked and worried about a recent decision to cut police liaison officers in Victoria and Esquimalt schools. It’s part of a shakeup within VicPD. Isabelle Raghem reports.
Esquimalt High School is just one of the Victoria and Esquimalt schools that will soon lose their liaison officer. It’s a position Principal Tammy Renyard says has been critical, especially in recent years.
“I was upset, in shock and you know, worried for my school,” says Renyard, ” From a lockdown to a suicide and student [dying] from an overdose and all of those situations are significant and we require support and resources.”
The cut is part of a shakeup within VicPD as the department wants to move six officers to the frontline.
“These positions are required and I have to be able to, and our officers have to be able to, answer 911 calls,” said Victoria Police Cheif Del Manak during a conference Wednesday.
The six officers will be reassigned from different positions, including all three liaison officers.
“I have to make the decision based on the risk to the community,” added Chief Del Manak.
The move comes after Esquimalt council voted earlier this year against funding its share of a request for six new officers.
“To take away one of our officers now and do what you couldn’t achieve through the budget process seems to be detrimental at this point,” says Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins.
Desjardins says her community doesn’t need more officers on the street.
“If those resources are needed in Victoria, ask Victoria, we feel we don’t need the resources,” says Desjardins.
Victoria’s mayor, whose council approved the request, says the school liaison cuts don’t come as a surprise.
“[VicPD] they need to have those frontline officers to respond. That’s why he asked for six more officers, we didn’t get those, those officers need to come from somewhere,” said Mayor Lisa Helps.
When the redeployment happens next fall, Principal Renyard says it will be felt in the school system.
“I honestly don’t know how we can do the work we do and support students and families without this position.”
Under the police act, the province is conducting a review and could ultimately force Esquimalt to pay its share of funds for the six new officers.