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Province wants to expand major crime unit to more Vancouver Island communities

Public safety minister Mike Farnworth said mid- and north-Island communities have expressed interest in expanding the major cime unit. Public safety minister Mike Farnworth said mid- and north-Island communities have expressed interest in expanding the major cime unit.
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B.C.’s public safety minister wants to hire more cops to investigate homicides and missing persons cases on Vancouver Island.

Minister Mike Farnworth hopes to expand the Vancouver Island Integrated Major Crime Unit (VIIMCU), which he said focuses largely on south-Island crime. The VIIMCU website notes the unit serves other parts of Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands and remote parts of B.C.’s coast.

“Local governments have identified that often when there’s a major crime, it can pose considerable impacts on them, not only in terms of the human resources required, but also in the costs,” Farnworth said in an interview with CTV News.

Homicide and missing persons investigations can be complex and lengthy, racking up costs for small, local police detachments, he said.

“An integrated model should help ensure the necessary resources are in place to investigate major crimes and bring closure and resolution to individuals, families and communities,” Campbell River Mayor Kermit Dahl said in a statement.

VIIMCU’s 35-person team includes staff from the RCMP, and Victoria, Saanich, Central Saanich and Oak Bay police departments. It has been investigating suspicious deaths and missing persons cases since 2007.

Victoria police Chief Del Manak is on board with adding more investigators to the VIIMCU team, as he said it doesn’t have the capacity for surveillance or forensic work.

“So it really falls upon the local police of jurisdiction… to resource these expertise areas,” he said.

Six VicPD officers are part of the unit.

“We would be interested in ensuring that our costs are not going to skyrocket,” Manak said.

Preliminary consultations with affected communities and police departments have begun, Farnworth said.

“We need to work with local governments in terms of what’s required, how to implement it (and) who’s going to participate,” he said.

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