Saanich to join Island major crime unit

Municipality faces tax hike for police department to join specialized investigative unit

The Vancouver Island Integrated Major Crime Unit (VIIMCU) could soon take on a broader geographic role with four members from the Saanich Police Department joining the team.

The announcement came at Monday night’s Saanich council meeting from Mayor Frank Leonard, who also chairs the Saanich police board.

“This is consistent with our philosophy. We really want a strong, community-based department, and that’s the front end of policing, but we’ve always looked for ways that the support and specialized services be integrated,” Leonard said.

The agreement will see three uniformed officers and one civilian employee join the Island-wide unit. Those lost positions will be backfilled, Leonard says.

Sgt. Dean Jantzen, speaking on behalf of Chief Const. Mike Chadwick, says the removal of three investigative officers from the department will not adversely affect Saanich residents.

“We will not be compromising our investigative capacity,” he said.

Under an existing contract, the Saanich police department investigates many crimes that occur in Oak Bay. Once approved, VIIMCU will cover major crimes in Saanich and Oak Bay.

“Our understanding is Saanich’s decision to join VIIMCU means we’re going ot be taken into the fold,” said Oak Bay deputy police chief Kent Thom. Oak Bay is not contributing officers to the unit.

Leonard says while the decision to join VIIMCU was up to Chadwick, the chief still needs the blessing of the Saanich police board and council, come budget season next year. Taxpayers will be on the hook for an estimated $400,000 per year as part of joining VIIMCU.

“That’s almost half a per cent of a tax increase,” the mayor said. “Sometimes (council) will be split at the municipal budget side on decisions that are $5,000 and $6,000. This is (financially) a difficult decision.”

Jantzen said there is no specific rationale for deciding to join the team in 2013, other than that VIIMCU now has a proven investigative track record elsewhere on the island.

“It’s not that we’ve been ignoring (VIIMCU) up to now. We’ve been watching what they’re doing,” he said. “When you drill right down, rather than the chief asking for (money in the budget for) four new constables, he asked to join this unit to invest in this increased investigative capacity.”

Rumours have been circulating for years about Saanich police joining VIIMCU. In November 2011, Jantzen told the News that talks were underway.

“There’s been no dramatic change in philosophy … we’ve reviewed this on a yearly basis since (VIIMCU’s) inception,” he said in 2011. “We now believe the factors exist where there is a net benefit to our community.”

Eighteen officers currently make up the integrated unit, formed in 2007. Six come from Victoria, two from the West Shore RCMP, and the remaining 10 are from various Island RCMP detachments.

Unsolved major crimes in Saanich – like the 2008 murder of Lindsay Buziak – won’t be taken over by VIIMCU for investigation.

While no firm dates have been set, Leonard anticipates Saanich officers will be part of the unit in early 2013.

– with files from Black Press

kslavin@saanichnews.com

 

Just Posted

Victoria shoppers fund Jubilee hospital cardiac monitoring

More than $40k raised over the holidays at Canadian Tire locations

Malahat snow-covered as flakes fall across Greater Victoria

Snowfall warning in effect for parts of Vancouver Island

BC Housing remains open to modular housing in Saanich, but acknowledges slow regional up take

Only one project with 21 units underway in the Greater Victoria

West Shore lands Pan Am Cross Country Cup

Event coming to Westin Bear Mountain Golf Resort Spa in February 2020

National Energy Board approves Trans Mountain pipeline again

Next step includes cabinet voting on the controversial expansion

POLL: Will you be wearing pink to take a stand against bullying?

Schools and workplaces across Greater Victoria and around the province will be… Continue reading

B.C. Special Olympics officially underway in Vernon

Athlete’s Oath: “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

Vancouver Aquarium wants your help to name a baby killer whale

The public helped name Springer’s first calf, Spirit, and is being asked to help with the second

Guards protest firing of fellow officers charged with assault at B.C. prison

Corrections officers demonstrated in Maple Ridge on Friday afternoon

Skier dies at Revelstoke Mountain Resort

Cause of death for young man has not been released

R. Kelly charged with 10 counts of sexual abuse

R&B star has been accused of sexual misconduct involving women and underage girls for years

More sailings coming to 10 BC Ferries’ routes

Transportation Minister Claire Trevena said the sailings were originally cut in 2014

Cryptocurrency exchange CEO who suddenly died leaves Kelowna house in will

Gerald Cotten, holding the keys to money tied up in his virtual currency exchange, died in December.

Most Read