Greater Victoria will become Canada’s safest region by 2020 when five bold steps in policing are achieved, including the creation of a regional police force, says Victoria’s police chief.
The department unveiled Monday what Chief Const. Jamie Graham called an attention-grabbing strategic plan that outlines its vision for policing by 2020. The plan was launched along with a video of cops on the job, an image-heavy eight-page brochure and a website.
“Now, I normally don’t get excited about strategic planning or strategic plans, but trust me this one is different,” said Graham. “I believe it’s the first of its kind by any police department in the country. We haven’t seen this done before.”
It’s been designed to be eye-catching in order to create a buzz in the community about what VicPD is doing, even inspire residents to provide feedback, said VicPD spokesperson Const. Mike Russell.
The strategic plan, endorsed by the Victoria Police Board, also provides an eight-year outlook, which is meant to evolve over time.
The department’s plan, which has been in development for at least a year, includes five steps: improving the department’s effectiveness, developing the best personnel, improving communication, regionalizing safety and building community relationships.
Its objectives will be realized with a regional force, when the department is a recognized leader in innovative policing, is the top Canadian police employer, has built stronger community partnerships and when citizens and visitors feel safe.
“When we talk about (a regional police force), we don’t mean that VicPD is going to take over the Lower Island,” Russell said, adding it means working with other agencies to create an amalgamated force, and pressuring the provincial government for approval.
There is already support for an amalgamated service, Graham said.
“When we talk publicly and when we do town hall meetings and we do rough polls by a show of hands, I can’t recall when someone put a hand up who does not agree with a regional force,” he said.
“We don’t know what we will call it. It could be the Saanich-Victoria Regional Force,” said Graham. “I don’t know. It doesn’t matter to us.”
Their objective is possibly creating a structure that encompasses the Saanich Peninsula, Oak Bay, past the West Shore, perhaps half way up the Malahat Drive of the Trans-Canada Highway, Graham said. “It could be as high as 300 or 400 officers.”
While these details are not included in the vision, it could very well be the reality by 2020, if VicPD gets its way.
“As far as we’re concerned, it’s a matter of time,” said Graham.
Working groups, each headed by a police inspector, have been tasked with the job of creating action plans, and producing quarterly reports on their progress.
But if the department doesn’t realize the regional policing element within its strategic plan by 2020, that won’t make the entire plan a failure.
“It’s a vision, it’s something we’re shooting towards,” Russell said.
VicPD’s strategic plan, including videos and additional details, is at www.vicpd.ca/stratplan2020.