Victoria Police Chief Del Manak is promising to change the culture at the department in the wake of the police complaint commissioner’s report on former chief Frank Elsner.
“There really is a cloud over the organization,” said Manak.
Inside the department, the top cop is promising structural changes.
“Many of us including myself, are asking some tough questions. How could this behaviour have occurred in our midst? Did we do enough to identify it, and take to action? And most importantly, what can we do to prevent this type of behaviour from ever happening again?” said Manak.
Police Complaints Commissioner Stan Lowe found Elsner guilty of eight counts of misconduct after a three-year investigation.
“These findings and the accompanying discipline measures are unprecedented in Canadian policing,” said Lowe to reporters at the news conference Wednesday.
Now Manak is looking to the future.
“I’ve been in this organization for 25 years. So, I’ve hired a number of people here. I know the culture that exists here,” Manak said.
“And I think that I’m committed to improving it, believe the men and women of this organization understand that. And they take that at face value.”
New policies at the department include the union and senior management working together, and mandatory workplace bullying and harassment training. It’s a move in the right direction according to University of Victoria labour relations expert Dr. Kenneth Thornicroft.
“The new chief, who comes from within, has support from the rank and file membership of the police department,” said Thornicroft. He believes the Victoria Police Department is moving on, but it’s important for the chief to set the right tone.
“I think it’s incumbent upon the leadership group to set the tone, and to ensure this sort of thing if it happens, is quickly addressed, and severely addressed. And people can feel comfortable to bring complaints forward,” said Thornicroft.
And the VicPD chief agrees.
“This was a significant, significant incident and setback, especially when it’s a leader of the organization. It’s a responsibility that I take very seriously,” said Manak.