Date: October 14, 2021
Today the Victoria and Esquimalt Police Board is releasing its 2022 budget in advance of an annual joint meeting next week with Victoria and Esquimalt Councils. The budget requests six additional officers to address emerging issues and opportunities from cybercrime to building stronger relationships with Indigenous, Black and people of colour communities.
“For the past two years, because of pandemic-related constraints faced by our local government partners, the police budget has not requested substantial additional resources,” said Doug Crowder, Police Board Finance Committee Chair. “This year, to respond to issues emerging in our communities, we look forward to working with both Councils to present and adopt a budget that meets the needs for public safety and community wellbeing in Victoria and Esquimalt.”
The Police Board adopted the budget unanimously after months of deliberation, and an examination of thorough business cases for all the proposed additional resources. The requested budget increases also include some civilian positions to create efficiencies and take some of the workload off of sworn officers.
“This budget reflects the realities that our communities are facing with police left to pick up the pieces of a health system that doesn’t meet the needs of our most marginalized residents,” said Police Board Lead Co-Chair and Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps. “The three new officers for the co-responder teams will be in plain clothes and accompanied by a psychiatric nurse. This is a complementary program to the one in development by the City of Victoria and the Canadian Mental Health Association.”
The co-responder teams requested as part of the 2022 budget are a program many other jurisdictions in the province have already implemented to provide a rapid professional and community-based response to attend to people in crisis.
Barb Desjardins, Mayor of Esquimalt and currently Deputy Co-Chair of the Police Board added, “This budget provides much needed additional resources for VicPD as a whole, and for the membership who are being challenged to maintain public safety while significantly short-handed.”
The Victoria and Esquimalt Police Board will present its budget to both councils at a joint meeting on Tuesday, October 19th from 5 to 7 p.m. The meeting is open to the public and can be viewed here, along with the budget package. Each Council will then deliberate and make decisions on the police budget in their respective budget processes in late 2021 and early 2022.