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

Concrete beams for McKenzie interchange set for installation this weekend

No lane closures expected during weekend work, says ministry

Impaired driver caught travelling double the speed in playground zone: Saanich police

Vehicle impounded and driver issued ticket, 90-day suspension

West Shore RCMP release sketch of Galloping Goose sexual assault suspect

Anyone who knows the man is asked to call West Shore RCMP

MISSING: Victoria police looking for ‘high-risk’ missing woman Clarissa Adamick

Adamick was last seen on July 12 and may be in the downtown Victoria area

Gate at Mount Douglas Park smashed on Wednesday night

It is suspected that a motorist drove through after being locked in after 11 p.m.

VIDEO: 1,400 classic cars roll into Victoria for Deuce Days

The four-day festival highlights classic hot rods, with a special emphasis on cars built in 1932

POLL: Do you carry reusable shopping bags?

While a court ruling determined the City of Victoria’s plastic bag ban… Continue reading

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of July 16

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Injured fawn at B.C. vet will be euthanized Friday night unless claimed by sanctuary

Gilbert the deer is currently being treated at West Kelowna’s Rose Valley Veterinary Hospital

BC Wildfire Service warns wet weather no reason to be complacent

Fire risk currently low for much of B.C. compared to same time over last two years.

Bank of Canada lowers qualifying rate used in mortgage stress tests

Home sales softened last year after the federal government introduced new stress test rules for uninsured mortgages

Port Hardy RCMP cleared in arrest that left man with broken ribs, punctured lung: IIO

The IIO noted the matter will not be referred to crown counsel for consideration of charges.

Couple found dead along northern B.C. highway in double homicide

Woman from the U.S. and man from Australia found dead near Liard Hot Springs

B.C. man pleads guilty in snake venom death of toddler

Plea comes more than five years after the incident in North Vancouver

Most Read