VicPD to deploy extra officers at Burnside Gorge, Beacon Hill
VICTORIA -- The Victoria Police Department says that it will be increasing its presence in the Burnside Gorge and Beacon Hill Park areas next month, following concerns from the community.
Police say that extra officers will be deployed in these areas, with the hope being that an increased police presence will improve safety and engagement in the two neighbourhoods.
“We have heard from the community, especially through the VicPD Block Watch program, that they would like to see more of a VicPD presence in these areas,” said Victoria Police Chief Del Manak in a release Friday.
“Our officers will therefore continue to engage with local residents to build relationships and to improve the safety of our community,” he said.
Victoria police have told CTV News that the Burnside Gorge neighbourhood has recently become the region’s crime epicentre.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, weekly VicPD crime statistics have shown that the Burnside Gorge area is home to the highest call volumes for property and violent crimes.
“In other communities things have stabilized,” said police spokesperson Bowen Osoko on Wednesday.
“But frankly, in the Burnside Gorge area we continue to see a rise in both property and violent crime,” he said.
The region is home to multiple properties that have been purchased or leased by the B.C. government to use as temporary homeless shelters amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Recently, a new tent encampment has also been seen forming in the region’s Cecelia Ravine Park.
Earlier this week, residents of the Burnside Gorge neighbourhood spoke out about being “overwhelmed” by crime and the city’s homelessness crisis.
Residents of the Burnside Gorge area say that more health and mental health supports are needed at the shelters.
Similarly, businesses in the area have told CTV News that break-ins, vandalism and other crimes have increased since the onset of the pandemic.
Police say that extra officers will be assigned to Burnside Gorge and Beacon Hill Park during the month of August.
The department says that due to resource constraints, the extra officers coming to the two communities will be deployed there on special duty assignments.