Victoria Police Department’s top cops defended their recent resource shakeup in front of Esquimalt council this week, highlighting a shift toward civilian positions for non-critical policing roles in the coming year.
Deputy Chief Del Manak presented the response to an efficiency review by criminologist Darryl Plecas, released in September, that includes the reassignment to other duties of 10 officers from youth and regional domestic violence investigation, two of four school resource officers.
“We didn’t take this decision lightly,” Manak told council Monday.
“In discussions with Plecas, we were told time and again that ‘You have people coming into your community committing crime. Deal with the volume and severity of crime in your community first, then you may go back to having four dedicated (school resource) officers.”
Councillors Meagan Brame and Lynda Hundleby questioned the potential impact of a reduction in school resource officers on Esquimalt’s four schools.
“I’m worried we’re becoming more reactive than proactive with policing,” Brame said. “I’m hoping there’s some balance there.”
Manak admitted that schools will not see the same officer presence that previously existed, but said “they’ll be working more strategically about where they go.”
When the report was released, VicPD said they chose not to eliminate any existing programs.
The reassigned officers will work with VicPD’s investigative services division and street crime unit.
Manak also indicated VicPD is taking steps to civilianize its Crime Stoppers program, which currently has one dedicated officer.
“There are better business models that use retired police officers (and) civilian staff at a much lower cost and the program is still viable and effective,” he said.
Chief Jamie Graham and Deputy Chief John Ducker attended council but did not speak.