Victoria Police Department taking too long to respond to emergency calls

A new report says VicPD is not meeting its 911 response targets

The Victoria Police Department says it’s not meeting its goals when it comes to responding to emergency calls.

In a report coming to a committee of the whole meeting on Thursday, Chief Const. Del Manak points out that police are taking too long in three out of four of its priority levels.

Priority one calls are life-threatening or require urgent attention, and officers should be on scene in seven minutes or less 95 per cent of the time.

ALSO READ: Victoria residents face long holds for non-emergency police calls

Priority two calls are serious, but may not be life-threatening and requires officers to be there within 12 minutes 90 per cent of the time.

Priority three require routing attention, but have no threat to life or property and requires officer on scene in 40 minutes or less 90 per cent of the time.

In all three of these situations, the police have not been meeting these time limits in 2019. The self-imposed benchmarks were put in place in 2018 after VicPD studied other police agencies, their own five-year response data and a public survey. In 2018, priority one and two call benchmarks were also not met for a majority of the year.

“It’s an ongoing problem,” Manak said.

He said there are two main issues contributing to the response delay; primarily he doesn’t have enough front-line officers, and secondly the department is dealing with an increase in call volume and severity.

Manak pointed out to two recent incidences which involved violent men barricading themselves inside buildings. On Monday a man barricaded himself inside of the Emanu-el Synagogue in downtown Victoria, which required a massive police presence and the evacuation of a nearby daycare. On Sunday a similar incident happened at a residential building on Richmond Avenue after a violent domestic dispute.

“What happens then is while these incidences are going on we don’t have the ability and resources to have other officers available to pick up the slack,” Manak said. “It’s a ripple effect.”

ALSO READ: Victoria Police Department requests $2.5 million increase for 2020 budget

Manak said he’s not surprised about the results and that in July VicPD issued a Transformation Report articulating 14 steps it hopes will lighten the work load.

These priorities include reducing unnecessary police services, altering work schedules, hiring special municipal constables and re-prioritizing calls.

“We’re looking at modernizing and transforming our police department,” he said. “We’re just implementing some of those now and intend to also do a deep dive into our response benchmarks to see if we missed anything.”

Manak said he doesn’t think the department will change the benchmarks, since the public told them these were the targets to hit.

The Victoria Police Department recently submitted a second request to the province to review municipal budget restrictions for 2019 in hopes of hiring four more staff members. The province already voted in favour of the department’s 2018 request for six additional officers.

This year VicPD requested a $2.5 million increase in its 2020 budget, bringing the total up to $58 million, which includes the hiring of special municipal constables. Budget requests will be further considered by the City in January.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

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