Back to the Future
-Police Audit recommends that Esquimalt goes back to managing its own policing
What’s the most common complaint of Esquimalt residents about Esquimalt? Most people will tell you that it is the lack of a visible police presence and inadequate response times to police calls. Ever since we amalgamated our police department with the VicPD in 2003, suspicion has spread among Esquimalt residents that the vast majority of policing resources are being concentrated almost entirely in Victoria. That means we are paying for a vital service that, real or perceived, is neglecting us.
This predicament led to calls from Esquimalt Council for an independent provincial audit of the Victoria Police Department. The results of the audit were released this week and have made recommendations on improving delivery of police services for both Victoria and Esquimalt, including “the establishment of a dedicated police patrol” for Esquimalt. That means, we may soon be independently in charge of our own community’s policing, not unlike the past.
“Overall, the audit found that the Victoria PD is providing effective policing to both communities, but there are some opportunities to increase the level of satisfaction felt by Esquimalt residents,” said Solicitor General Kash Heed in a provincial news release. “Moving ahead, we will work with both communities on a new governance structure.”
The audit results are divided into two reports:
* The Service Level Review examined officer deployment, call load, response times and associated costs.
* The Focused Inspection and Use of Force Review was a routine review conducted under Section 40 of the Police Act by the police service division, which audits independent municipal police departments to ensure they are in compliance with the provincial standards for municipal police departments in British Columbia and related regulations.
In the Service Level Review, a key consideration was parity of service delivery between Victoria and Esquimalt. Three of the six recommendations in the Service Level Review suggest the Township of Esquimalt change its current arrangement with the VicPD including:
* The current service delivery model should be revised to allow Esquimalt to contract for policing services with an independent municipal police department in the Capital Regional District. (Currently, Esquimalt and Victoria PD are amalgamated under the Police Act.) The terms of the contract should include requirements for a minimum level of services, a mandatory dedicated patrol for Esquimalt, opting in/out provisions for specific services and a fixed schedule for contract review.
* As part of the contract negotiations, a new funding allocation formula should be developed with a regular schedule for review.
* Esquimalt should have a separate governance structure to address police issues within Esquimalt, oversee policing service in its jurisdiction and manage the contract with its policing partner.Other recommendations call for the Victoria PD to revise its policy to clarify patrol area assignments, and establish performance measures for patrol such as a breakdown of statistics by municipality to include the number of calls recorded and dispatched, and average response times.
Both the audit’s reports can be found at: www.pssg.gov.bc.ca/police_services.