Victoria, Esquimalt must hire six new police officers: province
Victoria and Esquimalt must hire six new police officers that were not hired last year due to budget cuts, the province's policing services director has ruled.
Last year, Esquimalt council narrowly defeated a motion to spend more than $40,000 on the township's share of the cost of hiring the officers, while Victoria approved its share.
The department has not received an increase in police officers for eight years.
Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins said at the time that council voted against the increase because crime rates and calls for services were actually declining.
Then, Victoria police publicly announced it would be forced to redeploy six specialized officers, including school liaison officers, to front-line positions.
The province was asked to determine whether the request for six new officers should be included in Victoria police's 2018 provisional budget.
In a letter to Desjardins and Lisa Helps, the co-chairs of the Victoria and Esquimalt Police Board, Executive Director of Police Services Tonia Enger said despite "considerable efforts" from the board and Victoria police leadership, there was not enough communication on what resources were actually needed in the community.
"The fact remains that front-line policing will continue to be required for the maintenance of public safety and ensuring public confidence in police," Enger wrote. "When resource pressures exceed available personnel, what greatly suffers first is the proactive and preventative work."
She concluded in her report that the six officers requested "should be included in the VicPD Budget," but added a condition that resources must be allocated "to meet the service delivery needs of Esquimalt without regard to the demands driven by the downtown core."
Enger also chided the police board for providing "insufficient" information to Esquimalt to justify its contribution for the additional officers under the cities' framework agreement.
"This includes ensuring sufficient information and data is presented to the municipalities on the specific service or gaps and how any new resources will specifically address those services or gaps," she said.
The decision comes amid a separate budget conflict between Victoria and VicPD.
Council voted 5-3 to turn down the department's requested budget increase of $2.6-million, only granting VicPD a $1.6-million boost.
Chief Const. Del Manak said the decision could have a negative impact on public safety.