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Victoria police board member steps down over information, mental health response concerns

Paul Schachter said more information needed on how budgets used
A Victoria and Esquimalt Police Board member has stepped down as he said he didn’t have the information to do the job. (Black Press Media file photo)

A member of the Victoria and Esquimalt Police Board has resigned over what he called a lack of information and action on policies.

Paul Schachter announced at the board’s Tuesday (Nov. 15) meeting that he’ll be stepping down and will no longer serve on the board after November. In his resignation notice, he cited not having access to information that would ensure that the public is getting an efficient police force and ensure that important policies are operationalized.

“An efficient police force is one that manages public safety using reasonable resources, taking into consideration overall community well-being. To be clear, I’m not saying VicPD is run inefficiently, or that is overfunded or underfunded. There is need for greater transparency and analysis.”

The retired human rights, labour relations and dispute resolution lawyer said the department is once again lobbying for increased spending, but he couldn’t see results stemming from past budget increases.

“The VicPD budget increased by 45 per cent between 2002 and 2009 and now represents about 25 per cent of the total budget of the City of Victoria,” he said, reiterating that he wasn’t saying that was too much or too little. “It’s not clear whether this increase or how this increase has had an effect on crime reduction or public safety.”

Some issues are out of the board or department’s control as the province provides fewer external reviews and downloads more responsibilities and costs on VicPD, Schachter said.

“All these factors impede the board’s oversight of efficiency.”

Schachter said the second reason for his exit is that he’s “concerned the board has not been able to effectively address policies that create mistrust within vulnerable communities.”

That worry lay with how de-escalation and use of “cultural competency” resources have been operationalized during recent mental health-related incidents. Schachter said officers are put in an impossible position as they’re tasked, under law, with apprehending people in mental health crises.

“This often seems to demand escalation of force and authority to implement their apprehension, however escalation rather than de-escalation increases the chance of adverse results that negatively affect both the subject and police officers.”

He said the board is limited in its ability to review and provide direction on such but he’s thankful the department and the city have taken steps to mitigate some issues he raised.

Schachter credited VicPD officers’ dedication and its senior management for listening to views that challenge traditional police culture.

Black Press Media had an interview scheduled with Chief Del Manak but he didn’t call at the scheduled time. VicPD has not yet responded to a request to reschedule.

READ: B.C. public safety plan includes focus on repeat offenders, more mental health teams

READ: Esquimalt ordered to pony up its portion of 2022 Victoria police budget increase Follow us on Instagram.
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About the Author: Greater Victoria News Staff

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