When Del Manak joined the Victoria Police Department more than two decades ago, he never imagined he would become chief.
But on Tuesday the Victoria and Esquimalt Police Board appointed Manak as the department’s new chief constable.
“It’s a board decision and I think it’s a tough decision. It’s a big responsibility and I think that the board did their due diligence in assessing where they were, what the landscape was of the police department and I’m just very thankful and grateful that they ended up choosing me as chief constable,” Manak said from the police headquarters on Caledonia Avenue.
Manak first joined the department more than 24 years ago and has since worked his way up the ranks. Outside the department, Manak has deep roots in the city. He grew up in Victoria, attending George Jay Elementary, Central Middle School and eventually graduating from Mount Doug. He also played minor hockey at the Archie Browning Arena in Esquimalt.
But it wasn’t until the late 1980s, when Manak started seriously considering policing as a career and in 1990, graduated from the Vancouver Police Department. His appointment was announced in front of his wife Nicky, 17-year-old son Rajan, 15-year-old daugther, Kamryn, and 80-year-old mother, Avtar.
This is the first time the police board has hired a chief constable from within the department in 26 years.
“We’d done a 360 review of then acting chief back in the fall to access how he was doing as acting to make sure that we had the right guy in the acting job. The review came back very positive … It didn’t take us long to see that this was the right decision,” said Lisa Helps, lead co-chair of the police board.
“He’s led the department very ably through the last year of uncertainty.”
Up next, Manak will continue to build on work done by the department in recent months, including adjusting and incorporating public input into the department’s strategic plan, looking at new service delivery models and increasing front-line resources.
But he admits there will be challenges ahead.
“It’s going to be important that we are together, that we are focused and that we deliver the mission of public safety and are responsive and continue to be responsive to our community,” Manak said. “Our community has told us loud and clear they’d like to see more visibility, more officers on foot … That’s a challenge, because right now we don’t seem to have enough officers deployed to meet the demand.”
The appointment of Manak to chief constable comes nearly a month about the resignation of former chief Frank Elsner.