City of Victoria: 2022 – Q1

As part of our ongoing Open VicPD transparency initiative, we introduced Community Safety Report Cards as a way to keep everyone up to date with how the Victoria Police Department is serving the public.  These report cards, which are published quarterly in two community-specific versions (one for Victoria and one for Esquimalt), offer both quantitative and qualitative information about crime trends, operational incidents, and community engagement initiatives.  It is hoped that, through this proactive sharing of information, our citizens have a better understanding of how VicPD is working toward its strategic vision of “A Safer Community Together.

Victoria Community Information

VicPD continues to make progress towards our three main strategic goals outlined in VicPD Strategic Plan 2020. Specifically, in Q1, the following goal-specific work was accomplished:

Support Community Safety

  • VicPD successfully managed significant protest activity during the first quarter of 2022. January saw an occupation take hold in Ottawa and convoy-style protests targeted the James Bay and B.C. Legislature areas for a period that ultimately lasted over 10 weeks.
  • The Patrol Division continues to manage a heavy call load despite staffing shortages, but remains hopeful that additional resources are forthcoming.
  • Volunteer programs, including Crime Watch, Cell Watch, and Speed Watch, resumed normal operations as public health restrictions eased.

Enhance Public Trust

  • As staffing levels allowed, all sections within the Community Services Division continued to engage our communities through proactive patrols, virtual and in-person community meetings, and projects.
  • VicPD remains committed to ongoing and meaningful public engagement and transparency. To this end, VicPD’s Community Dashboard was updated with the latest 2021 figures, including data related to calls for service, the release of documents to the public, and community satisfaction with VicPD’s service.
  • The easing of public health orders has allowed the re-opening of the front counters in both Victoria and Esquimalt, while citizens continue to be offered many services online as well.

Achieve Organizational Excellence

  • In Q1, VicPD continued to work with the Victoria and Esquimalt Police Board as well as both councils regarding the department’s 2022 budget request and associated resource requirements.
  • To meet ongoing and growing resource demands, recruiting for both officers and civilian staff remained a top strategic priority.
  • Implementation of a new Human Resources Information System continues, which promises to streamline a variety of processes across the organization.
Q1 of 2022 saw continued impacts of COVID-19 changes on officers and staff as VicPD continued our response to the emergence of the highly infectious Omicron variant. At the start of the quarter, to ensure our ability to respond to front-line calls for service during potential staffing shortages, the Department notified all officers that they needed to be prepared for redeployment to the front line. This notification marked the first time VicPD has enacted a clause in the collective agreement between the Victoria Police Department and the Victoria City Police Union (VCPU) to allow for this redeployment. Front counter services were again closed and VicPD volunteer programs again paused. However, due to our high vaccination rate, and thanks to sections like the Community Services Division and Investigative Services Division adjusting their schedules to ensure Patrol coverage, VicPD was able to maintain the high standard of service that our citizens expect. Officers returned to regular duties and front counter service and VicPD volunteers resumed on February 22nd.

Significant protest activity became a key public safety concern during the first quarter of 2022. January saw an occupation take hold in Ottawa and convoy-style protests targeted the James Bay and B.C. Legislature areas for a period that ultimately lasted over 10 weeks. After the federal government enacted the Emergency Measures Act and the Ottawa occupation was broken up, several key protest leaders there announced their intention to stage a second occupation in Victoria. This additional nationally-focused convoy came during an already unusually active protest season, with Patrol, Community Services Division and Greater Victoria Public Safety Unit officers having already responded to multiple protests blocking highways in Victoria.

A protest group blocking Douglas Street

While VicPD supports everyone’s right to safe, peaceful and lawful protest, dangerous and/or unlawful acts are responded to with de-escalation and enforcement. VicPD’s Traffic section, Community Services Division, Operational Planning, Investigative Services Division, Patrol, Community Engagement Division and the Greater Victoria Public Safety Unit all responded. VicPD worked directly with the community, reaching out through both traditional and social media as well as in person to keep our community proactively informed and updated as we worked to resolve the issue. On Saturday, March 19th, VicPD temporarily restricted non-local vehicles access to the James Bay area, through the establishment of controlled access points. Transit access, as well as access to the B.C. Legislature area by foot, taxi and bicycle as well as local vehicle access to area places of worship, businesses, soccer fields, restaurants and the like were not limited.

VicPD officer with PSU facilitating local vehicle only and BC Transit access to James Bay

People, but not their vehicles, were able to gather in the B.C. Legislature area for protest activity, with many thousands supporting a variety of causes doing so during the quarter. While there were over 50 traffic tickets issued, over 20 Notice and Orders given, three “anti-honking” bylaw violations issued, and three arrests, there was no major property damage, no significant assaults and no injuries reported. The declared attempts to occupy the area were avoided, and James Bay residents found relief from multiple weeks of significant disturbances including from vehicles unlawfully using modified air, truck and ship horns. VicPD officers were approached time and again and thanked for their work balancing the right to protest with public safety, and VicPD received thousands of messages of support.

Officer conducts traffic enforcement in James Bay area during convoy-style protests

On February 1st, Patrol officers arrested a 35-year-old man after an investigation into child luring in Victoria which began when a concerned father who had learned that a 35-year-old man had supplied free alcohol and other items to his teenage daughter and her friend called police. The man, who was not known to the family, had sent inappropriate text messages and given free items to the youth in efforts believed to be part of grooming them for a sexual purpose.

Several high-profile stabbings occurred in this quarter, including a March machete assault in Beacon Hill Park, a January stabbing where the victim received head injuries, and a March 1st homicide in the 500-block of Yates Street. The suspect in the homicide was identified and arrested a short time later that morning.

Officers recovered a loaded handgun, dropped by a suspect who fled into a family’s home after Patrol officers stopped to speak with a small group standing outside a residence in the 2600-block of Dowler Place on March 23rd. The mother leapt from the residence’s window with one of her children, before re-entering the home to rescue another child, while the father confronted the suspect and eventually threw the suspect from the home. The suspect was arrested by officers a short time later, and transported to hospital for treatment for non-life-threatening injuries received in his confrontation with the family.

Loaded handgun recovered by officers, dropped by suspect who fled into a family’s home

On March 29th, VicPD officers arrested a man at gunpoint minutes after he robbed a Bay Street business while armed with a knife. The man is a suspect in a series of armed robberies in both Victoria and Saanich. Officers recovered a knife and cash during the arrest. Two weeks earlier, VicPD Patrol officers arrested a different armed man 7 minutes after he attempted a rob a woman of her purse at knifepoint.

A suspect, arrested in December 2021 after a nearly year-long investigation into a series of reports of sexualized violence associated to a downtown Victoria bar and grill, was charged. Jesse Chiavaroli has been charged with four counts of sexual assault and one count of assault with a weapon.

Officers began and then continued our search for high-risk missing man Ian Indridson, sharing his information with our community in efforts to locate him safely. Our search for Ian continues.

Strike Force continued to target organized crime related to the lower Mainland gang conflict which is working to establish footholds here in greater Victoria. In addition to seizing over $20,000 cash in a joint operation, Strike Force also seized 2.5 kilograms of fentanyl.

Coloured fentanyl seized by VicPD’s Strike Force

For other notable files, please visit our community updates page.

The emergence of the highly infectious Omicron COVID-19 variant continued to limit VicPD’s in-person engagement opportunities. However, VicPD continued to adapt and adjust to help stay connected with our community. The slow lifting of restrictions late in the quarter saw a return to in-person engagement.

Wounded Warriors Canada conducted trauma resiliency training (TRT) “train the trainer” workshops with VicPD officers and staff.  TRT is designed to provide individuals in trauma-exposed organizations like police departments with knowledge, skills and tools to help mitigate the risk of on-the-job exposure to traumatic events leading to traumatization, which in turn, helps VicPD continue to serve Victoria and Esquimalt to the best of our abilities.

VicPD officers also took part in the Wounded Warrior run, raising funds for Wounded Warriors Canada and other vital programs.

Sgt. Steve Kowan joins the Wounded Warrior Run team

Once again, VicPD participated in Pink Shirt Day, with many staff donning pink as we work to help end bullying.

Inspector Grant Hamilton and VicPD Chief Del Manak don pink ties for Pink Shirt Day

VicPD officers and staff also raised over $17,000 for adults with intellectual disabilities through a virtual version of the very cool Polar Plunge in support of Special Olympics BC.

VicPD’s Inspectors, Deputy Chiefs and Chief Manak about to get “freezin’ for a reason” in support of BC Special Olympics

VicPD continued to build our connections with BIPOC members of our community, sharing the history of VicPD’s Black Constables during Black History month and through continued outreach. With the relaxing of COVID-19 restrictions late in the quarter, officers and staff were once again able to connect in person, including spending a morning playing “haunted mini-golf” in a partnership outreach event with the Aboriginal Coalition to End Homelessness.

On March 8th, we recognized leaders like VicPD Inspector Kerrilee Jones during International Women’s Day.

Despite the challenges created by COVID-19, VicPD was able to graduate a new class of volunteer Reserve Constables in March. This class included an Oak Bay Police Department Reserve Constable, who trained alongside our new volunteer reserves.

Impaired and distracted drivers were both the focus of online and in-person month-long awareness campaigns, conducted in partnership with VicPD’s Traffic section and ICBC.

At the end of Q1 the net financial position is approximately 1.4% over budget. Revenues are below budget at 9.9% but are expected to increase as Covid-19 restrictions are lifted. Capital commitments are at 52% due to the carryover of purchases from 2021 and are expected to remain within budget. Total operating expenditures are 0.8% over budget. Salaries and benefits are high in the first two quarters due to the timing of benefit costs and are expected to fall below budget in the second half of the year. Overtime costs remain high as a result of maintaining front-line minimums whilst we continue to experience staffing shortages and work-related injuries. A portion of the requested overtime budget was not approved by councils which will contribute to overtime overages. Other expenditures are in line with expectations and expected to remain within budget.