New Victoria police department Chief Constable Frank Elsner sees law enforcement as one cog in the “holistic wheel” that is community.
“We can’t arrest our way out of all our problems,” he said. “We’ve got to find better solutions that we can all work towards to make sure crimes don’t happen in the first place.”
A visibly emotional Elsner was sworn in to his new role at an event in the Save-On-Foods Memorial lobby on Monday. Politicians, community organizations and police chiefs from departments around the region and beyond attended to welcome the new chief, who is coming from his stint as chief in Sudbury, Ont.
Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin welcomed Elsner and spoke to the importance of leadership, giving a nod to the work of outgoing chief Jamie Graham. He also couldn’t help but give the new chief a hard time about escaping Ontario’s weather.
“It’s -35C in Sudbury and today’s high (in Victoria) will be 9C,” Fortin said. “With 45 degrees Celsius difference, I just want to say to the new chief coming in, we hope you can handle the heat.”
Frontline police work will be the priority for Elsner, as he looks to restore public faith in a police force which has found itself the subject of controversy at times in recent years. He said he will be meeting with community leaders and organizations to discuss their priorities and work with them moving forward.
“I truly believe our hearts are in the right place,” Elsner said. “This is a new day of moving forward. … Everything we do is about building relationships, and that’s where I want to start.”
Elsnore grew up in the Okanagan and then moved to the Nanaimo-Ladysmith area after high school, selling vacuums and washing dishes. He went on to gain 30 years of experience policing, first with the RCMP and later with various police departments in Ontario.
Elsner described his new appointment as a “dream come true,” revelling in his return to B.C.