The mayor of Esquimalt is again calling for a regional police force after council received VicPD’s quarterly report at the Monday council meeting.
The township’s partnership with the Victoria Police Department doesn’t work, Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins tells Black Press Media.
“The discussion always comes back to, where we are now is not working,” she says. “We are two very different communities.”
In 2003 Esquimalt and Victoria were mandated into a policing partnership at the behest of the the provincial government.
“It was very clearly stated that we were just beginning amalgamating the police forces,” Desjardins says. “And so Esquimalt and Victoria went into this with the understanding that others were going to be joining in. That has never happened.”
Recently, a survey commissioned by the province analyzed the municipalities’ financial contributions to the joint police operation.
The Doug LePard Consulting survey says the current funding model – which sees Esquimalt’s contributions fixed at 14.7 per cent – is “somewhat unfair” because it’s greater than the township’s demand for service, and doesn’t adjust for changes in that demand. Cutting it down one per cent would save the township about $600,000.
But those Esquimalt savings have to be offset – and it’s a conversation that can get complicated, fast.
The report says Esquimalt has roughly 5.32 more officers than its equitable share. It also indicates that cutting four officers (roughly one officer per shift) could save the town about $935,600 in its budget. But those cuts aren’t listed as recommendations – instead the report says consultation with VicPD should address how that would impact its deployment model, as well potential alternative models.
“The challenge is that every time you want to make a change, one community benefits but the other community may not like the effect,” Desjardins says. “The reality is, if Esquimalt doesn’t have those officers, then either they are lost through attrition – which means the complement of officers for VicPD goes down – or Victoria has to take those officers and that is an increase…for their budget.”
VicPD Chief Del Manak says Esquimalt Division officers are an asset to the community.
“It’s got nothing to do with service, community connection or community engagement,” he says. “This is really a concern and a decision about money.”
Desjardins says the answer is provincially mandated police amalgamation, and Manak supports the idea too.
“Imagine the efficiency and the information sharing,” he says. “No one just lives and breathes in the area we live in – we flow to and from in the region,” he says. “There’s no municipal boundaries for crime.
With files from Don Descoteau.