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.