Acting Victoria police chief Del Manak.

Centralized 911 dispatch centre inches closer towards becoming a reality

As the top cop of the Victoria police, acting chief Del Manak is always looking for ways the department can become more efficient.

As the top cop of the Victoria police, acting chief Del Manak is always looking for ways the department can become more efficient.

The department is currently in the midst of an efficiency review focused on front line operations and has ongoing discussions with regional partners on integrating some services. Talks continue with Saanich police on how units can be integrated to fight cyber crime. Computer forensic services have already joined forces.

But one thing that Manak has supported for many years and is now inching further towards a reality is the centralized Emergency Response Dispatch Centre, which would bring three dispatch points (for 911 calls and police dispatch) under one roof. It would also be purpose built designed to withstand a major earthquake.

Currently, 911 calls for the region are answered among three centres — Victoria police, Saanich police and the Westshore RCMP. The information is then transferred to the appropriate agency for dispatch, but having multiple call takers has caused officials concern.

“We think there’s a significant public safety improvement there in having trained dispatchers, trained call takers that are working in a purpose built facility,” said Manak, noting a call about an impaired driver wouldn’t have to be transferred from call centre to call centre. “It really does make sense to have it centralized in one building.”

In October, the Capital Regional District (CRD) board voted to borrow the $16 million for the new facility (a police-led initiative) that would be built in Saanich at 4219 Commerce Circle. An update on the purchase of the property will be presented to the board this month. The final reading is anticipated in February, with an opening projected in two years.

Victoria police currently have 38 full time staff working in its 911 dispatch centre. Manak isn’t sure what they’ll do with the space once the staff are moved into the new facility, but said it will provide the department some much-needed room.

“Space is an issue here so we’ll make sure we use it properly,” he said. “It will allow us to have some growth without having to expand outside the building.”