Victoria mayor applauds premier's call for review of Police Act
VICTORIA -- Amid global protests against police brutality and racism — including recent rallies in Victoria — B.C. Premier John Horgan said Friday his government is reviewing the Police Act with a view to modernizing it, along with how police do their job.
“What we expect from law enforcement today is quite different than 45 years ago,” Horgan said.
He also called proposals for defunding police departments “simplistic.”
However, the premier said change is needed to policing, including expanding the role of other agencies, because it’s unrealistic to expect police alone to deal with issues of mental health and addiction.
“There’s a range of other challenges that we are now burdening law enforcement officers with,” Horgan said.
Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps called the review of the Police Act great news, identifying calls related to mental health as an area for change.
“This isn’t police work,” she said, regarding such calls. “It’s become police work because at four o’clock in the morning when someone is having a mental health episode, there is no one else who will come. I think that can change.”
This all comes a day after an exchange in Victoria City Council on Thursday, when councillor Ben Isitt asked Victoria police Chief Del Manak what he thought of the idea of disbanding the Victoria Police Department.
That question drew a firm response from Manak, who rhetorically asked who was going to deal with the most violent people in the community.
Outside of council chambers on Thursday, Manak said he was shocked.
“I find it shocking that that question would even be asked or that it would even be discussed,” he told CTV News.
On Friday, Helps agreed with Manak.
“The notion of abolishing the Victoria Police Department doesn’t make any sense to me,” she told reporters.