Our History | VicPD Turns 159

Friday, July 7, 2017

Victoria, BC – Today marks the 159th year since VicPD’s founding.

 

Augustus Pemberton was appointed the first Commissioner of Police for the Crown Colony of Vancouver Island on July 7th, 1858. This appointment officially founded our department. Governor James Douglas authorized Pemberton to hire “a few strong men with good character.” This colonial police force was referred to as the Victoria Metropolitan Police, and was the forerunner of the Victoria Police Department.

 

Augustus Pemberton

 

By 1860, this fledgling Police Department, under Chief Francis O’Conner, consisted of 12 constables, a sanitary officer, a night watchman, and a jailer.

 

Document Appointing Augustus Pemberton as Commissioner

 

The original police station, gaol and barracks were located in Bastion Square. The men wore military style uniforms, carried batons and were only allowed revolvers when they were given a warrant to serve. In the early days the kinds of offenses the police officers had to deal with consisted mainly of drunk and disorderly, assaults, deserters and vagrancy. In addition, people were charged with being “a rogue and a vagabond” and also with being of “unsound mind”. Furious driving on public streets and impaired driving of horse and wagon were also fairly common.

 

Since that time, our department has grown to alongside the citizens we serve. We moved to our current headquarters on Caledonia Avenue in 1996, and amalgamated with Esquimalt Police Department in 2003. We continue to proudly serve the citizens of Victoria and Esquimalt, connected to our history as the oldest police department west of the Great Lakes and connected to our future as members of the vibrant communities of Victoria and Esquimalt.