How would you describe the past year?
I think the past year, it was full of a number of challenges, but I am very thrilled that the Victoria Police Department stepped up to answer the call. Whatever was required, whether it was tent city to keeping the royals safe when the Duke and Duchess were here in Victoria, our officers and our staff stepped up. I am actually quite proud of our accomplishments over the year, but it also presented a number of challenges as well.
What was the biggest challenge?
The resolution of tent city. Tent city started in November 2015 and went on for about 10 months. There were people that were on site who wanted a confrontation with police. They told us on a regular basis they wanted to be arrested, they wanted to create a scene and they wanted to highlight the issues of homelessness. For the VicPD to have resolved that with no one injured and no one arrested the day we closed down tent city is remarkable.
What has been the highlight?
With the number of overdose deaths that we’re seeing in the province of B.C. and especially in our Capital Regional District, our recent $1.2 million fentanyl drug bust that we had in partnership with the Canadian Border Services Agency. I think it is a significant statement from VicPD that we are aggressively targeting drug dealers in our community who have no regard for the vulnerable people and are passing out illicit drugs that are laced with fentanyl which are potential overdoses for our citizens. I translate that 725,000 potential overdose drug packages that we seized, we protected a number of people who would have died unnecessarily in our community.
What issues are you focused on for the new year?
With 2017, we’re going to bring out a community survey. I am actually quite excited about going out into our community and I really believe strongly that in order for us to have the trust and confidence of our community, we have to be responsive to their needs. Every so often, we need to go talk to our citizens and find out what those needs are and are we meeting those expectations? I think it’s really important that we do that. We’re going to do that in the spring of 2017 and I am personally going to be out working and having a number of town hall meetings with different communities and engaging our citizens and letting them know what services we provide, and also asking them, how do they feel, their perception of safety and how do we match up to what their expectations are to the VicPD?
We continue to be intelligence led. It’s parts of our strategic plan where we want to make sure that we are looking at crime trends, we are reacting in a timely manner and adjusting our resources to where crime is occurring, when it’s concurring and hitting the hot spots quickly so that we prevent people from becoming victims.