Victoria police chief disappointed after Esquimalt votes down request for new officers


WATCH: In a 4-3 vote Esquimalt council said no to spending nearly a million dollars for six new police officers. April Lawrence has the reaction.

Esquimalt council has once again turned down a request from Victoria police to provide a share of the funding needed to hire six new officers in 2018.

After a similar request was rejected by a vote of 4-3 in January, VicPD Deputy Chief Colin Watson presented the force?s revised case in front of Mayor Barb Desjardins and six councillors on Monday night.

Deputy Chief Watson explained that four of the officers would be based in Victoria while two would be used to create an Alternate Response Unit that would serve both municipalities.

Their duties would include telephone response and investigative support for on-street officers.

Esquimalt would be on the hook for roughly 15 per cent of the requested budget or approximately $94,300.

Once again, a majority of council voiced doubts about whether statistics show an actual need for more officers in Esquimalt.

?People have said where is the business case,? Mayor Barb Desjardins said.

“On the one hand your reporting is telling us you’re doing a great job and things are going down they’re going in the right direction, why do you need more officers? It doesn’t match.”

Councillors also expressed concerns that not one of the new hires would be specifically assigned to the township.

?You sort of brought it back to us in a different way and I?m struggling to understand where the case is,” Desjardins said.

Victoria Police Chief Del Manak said the department is trying to have enough flexibility to add resources where the demand is going to go.

And he said the numbers Esquimalt council is looking at don’t tell the whole story.

“The complexity of crime, the severity of crime, more so in Esquimalt than in many others in the CRD, all takes resources,” Manak said.

Desjardins also serves along with Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps as co-chair of the Victoria Police Board.

Manak will now go to the board with some possible options: go back to Victoria council, which has already approved its 85 per cent share of the increase, and see if it still wants to fund the added officers. They could also go through the province’s dispute resolution process or Manak says, they could cut services.

“I will be really critically looking at cuts in service to other non-critical areas so we can redeploy resources to the front lines all of those are options I was hoping I wouldn’t have to pursue,” he said.

April LawrenceApril Lawrence

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