Victoria police prepare for emergency redeployments in anticipation of Omicron spread

Victoria police prepare for emergency redeployments in anticipation of Omicron spread

As the Omicron variant of COVID-19 continues to hit hard across many sectors, the Victoria Police Department is notifying all of its officers that they may have to redeploy to the frontlines in anticipation of staffing shortages.

Redeployments to the patrol division will begin this weekend and will be made as needed to ensure police can meet their public safety mandate, the department said in a news release.

“Maintaining the continuity of police operations during this global pandemic is critical,”said Victoria Police Chief Del Manak in a statement. “I am extremely grateful to our officers who are adjusting their shifts and schedules to serve on the frontlines, ensuring that citizens of Victoria and Esquimalt know that when they call 911, a uniformed officer will respond to their call for help.”

It’s the first time Victoria Police Department has used a clause in its collective agreement with the Victoria City Police Union to allow for the emergency redployment.

“The VCPU and VicPD are working together as we respond to the ongoing COVID-19 public health emergency,” VCPU spokesperson Matt Waterman said in a statement. “The Union will continue to monitor and hopes the emergent situation will be resolved shortly so workers can return to their regular duties and schedule.”

It comes as Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry warned that January would see a remarkable level of absenteeism — saying businesses should prepare for up to one-third of their workforce to fall ill — due to the rapid spread of the Omicron variant.

Earlier this week, Henry said the next few weeks will be challenging as the province weathers a “pandemic storm” and capacity to test those who are sick is limited as 80 per cent of infections in the province are now due to Omicron.

VicPD says more than 50 of its officers are already away from work, mostly due to injury as well as training or administrative purposes.

Recently, Henry reduced the requirement to self-isolate after testing positive for COVID-19 to five days for fully vaccinated people without symptoms.

People who haven’t been vaccinated are still required to self-isolate for 10 days.


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