City of Victoria: 2022 – Q2

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 Q2, the following goal-specific work was accomplished:

Support Community Safety

  • The most important event related to community safety occurred on June 28th when three VicPD officers were among the six officers who were shot while responding to two heavily armed suspects at a bank in Saanich.

  • 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, have resumed normal operations and have received very positive feedback from the public as a result.

Enhance Public Trust

  • The Saanich shooting incident, despite its associated tragedies, also served to bring our community closer together and VicPD is deeply appreciative of all of the support shown to us by the community.

  • VicPD launched the VicPD Indigenous Heritage Crest on National Indigenous Peoples Day in June. VicPD’s Indigenous Engagement Team of First Nations and Metis members who have ancestral ties to the Cree, Kaska, Dena, Mi’kmaq, Mohawk, Naskapi and Ojibwe nations created VicPD’s crest to honour the Indigenous heritage of those who serve our communities as VicPD officers, civilian employees, special municipal constables, jail staff, and volunteers.

  • VicPD completed another successful annual community survey project in June. Key findings include an 82% overall satisfaction rate with VicPD’s service, and 93% of respondents agreeing that “police and citizens working together can make this a better place to live and work.”

Achieve Organizational Excellence

  • More than ever, the Saanich shooting incident highlighted the need to care for our people. A significant collective effort was immediately launched to look after the physical and mental needs of everyone involved, a process that remains in effect on a daily basis as our recovery continues.

  • In Q2, an increased emphasis was placed on attracting qualified candidates to join VicPD as officers, civilian employees, special municipal constables, jail staff, and volunteers. This has taken the form of a recruiting presence at community and sporting events as well as a refreshed recruiting website and streamlined application process.

  • Implementation of a new Human Resources Information System continues, which promises to streamline a variety of processes (including recruiting) across the organization.

Q2 of 2022 saw the successful completion of key engagement projects like the 2022 VicPD Community Survey and #Warrant Wednesday, but also saw response to significant increases in random attacks and a nine-week series of incidents involving violence and vandalism related to large groups of youths gathering with drugs, alcohol and weapons in downtown Victoria.

One of the most important, but most challenging moments of the quarter came on June 28th, when three VicPD officers were among six GVERT officers shot while responding to two heavily armed suspects at a bank in Saanich. In addition to providing direct operational and communications support to our Saanich Police Department partners as part of the immediate response to the incident, the Public Affairs section of the Community Engagement team continues to support the ongoing investigation and respond to community concern and the tremendous outpouring of community support.

A young girl wears a blue heart in support of GVERT officers

VicPD launched the VicPD Indigenous Heritage Crest. VicPD’s Indigenous Engagement Team of First Nations and Metis members who have ancestral ties to the Cree, Kaska, Dena, Mi’kmaq, Mohawk, Naskapi and Ojibwe nations created VicPD’s crest to honour the Indigenous heritage of those who serve our communities as VicPD officers, civilian employees, special municipal constables, jail staff, and volunteers.

Acclaimed educator and master carver Yux’wey’lupton launches the VicPD Indigenous Engagement Crest with Det. Cst. Sandi Haney and Cst. Cam MacIntyre

The VicPD Indigenous Heritage Crest was designed by acclaimed educator and master carver Yux’wey’lupton, a true visionary guide and knowledge-keeper, known widely by his English name, Clarence “Butch” Dick. Butch was also instrumental in helping design our VicPD crest, which prominently features the Sta’qeya, or Coast Salish wolf, as a way to represent our connection to the traditional Lekwungen territories where we live and work.

Nine weeks of violence and vandalism associated with groups of youths, primarily from municipalities outside of Victoria and Esquimalt, gathering downtown with weapons drugs and alcohol saw swarming attacks on a couple, an unhoused couple, an officer in the process of making a lawful arrest and a 72-year-old man, who was left with significant facial injuries.

Officers and staff from across VicPD, including the Community Services Division (CSD), Patrol Division, Investigative Services Division (ISD) and Community Engagement Division (CED) all responded. The response included direct outreach and engagement with partners including the Saanich Police Department, Oak Bay Police, the Central Saanich Police Service, West Shore RCMP and Sidney/North Saanich RCMP, as well as school districts across the regions including SD61, SD62 and SD63, private schools, municipalities, youth probation, community groups, parents, families and youths themselves to foster short, medium and long-term solutions. Our response included a series of #VicPDLive tweetalongs on our VicPD Canada Twitter account. Community Engagement supported the enforcement and engagement portion of the operation as part of the response that resulted in 60 investigations and 24 arrests ranging from public intoxication to possession of weapons, assault, assault with a weapon, and mischief. The final two weeks of the enforcement period saw no significant incidents.

With 1,300 2022 VicPD Community Survey responses, we continued our extensive engagements with the communities of Victoria and Esquimalt. Key findings include an 82% overall satisfaction rate, and 93% of overall respondents agreeing that “Police and citizens working together can make this a better place to live and work.” The rigorous survey process and statistically significant sample means that the survey reflects the responses of nearly 12 out of every 1,000 Victoria and Esquimalt residents.

Many of the survey responses did not see significant changes from last year’s results. However, we continue to see that only 37% of respondents feel safe in downtown Victoria or Esquimalt Plaza at night.

Random attacks emerged as a serious community safety issue this quarter. The attacks included the random targeting of people downtown with bear spray, a man randomly punched in the face on Dallas Road, a woman suffering head injuries after being randomly attacked from behind in James Bay, a man randomly attacking kitchen staff in a downtown restaurant after entering through a staff-only door, a man left with significant burns after being attacked by a woman on Blanshard Street, and a suspect arrested after striking a father walking with his child in a stroller. The Community Engagement team assisted in keeping the public informed and assisting investigators in the search for witnesses, video and other evidence and additional investigative and suspect information.

A series of arsons, including one at the residence of a Ukrainian Catholic Church priest’s family which saw responding Patrol officers give life-saving first aid to a young girl, struck across Victoria.

While there has been extensive damage and significant public concern, officers have made arrests in some of the files. The Community Engagement team continues to assist in supporting the ongoing investigations.

Early in the quarter, Strike Force seized 8 kilograms of deadly drugs including fentanyl, multiple firearms including assault rifles and over $100,000 in cash as part of an investigation into suspected drug traffickers with ties to the Lower Mainland gang conflict who were operating in Victoria.

Working with information from VicPD’s Analysis and Intelligence Section (AIS), officers seized eight kilograms of drugs, including 1.5 kilograms of fentanyl, 3.5 kilograms of cocaine, and three kilograms of methamphetamine. In addition, officers sized eight rifles and one handgun, accompanied by magazines and ammunition, as well as more than $105,000 in Canadian currency.

Historical Case Review Unit investigators released new photographs of missing Esquimalt woman Belinda Cameron. Belinda Cameron was last seen on May 11th, 2005. Belinda was last seen at Esquimalt’s Shoppers Drug Mart in the 800-block of Esquimalt Road that day. Belinda was reported missing nearly a month later, on June 4th, 2005. Officers conducted an extensive investigation and a series of searches for Belinda. She has not been found.

Belinda’s disappearance is considered suspicious and investigators believe that Belinda was the victim of foul play. Her disappearance continues to be investigated as a homicide.

The lifting of COVID-19 restrictions saw an enthusiastic return to in-person engagement this quarter. The Community Engagement section either conducts these engagements directly or provides support to partners from across the Department and other aligned partners like the VicPD Athletic Association.

Chief Manak joined students at George Jay Elementary to share the importance of reading during literacy week.

VicPD Traffic officers were glad to return to helping keep people safe during several marathons and races in Victoria. The return of the Times Colonist 10K was a particular highlight of this quarter.

The Community Engagement section partnered with the VicPD Athletic Association for several events, including the Memorial Golf Tournament were proud to award the VicPD Athletic Association’s Citizenship scholarship for distinguished athletic abilities & support for athletics, as well as outstanding school & community citizenship to Vic High’s Cameron Lalli.

Puppy socialization and adoption outreach continued our partnership with the Victoria Humane Society. These popular events are well-attended by officers and staff while helping to socialize puppies as they prepare to find their forever homes.

This quarter saw the launch of a close collaboration with VicPD’s Human Resources Section with a focus on recruiting the next generation of VicPD officers and staff. An extended recruitment campaign, which will run for 12-18 months, and include banners on VicPD Headquarters, targeted advertising in high-profile locations and in-person community engagement looks to continue VicPD’s history of hiring excellent people to join VicPD. Recruiting is a key focus for VicPD, with recruiting messaging now part of every email, a recruiting-centred refresh of and more recruiting events to come.

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

At the end of Q2 the net operating financial position is approximately 1.9% over budget, mostly due to temporary expenditures which we expect abate in the 2nd half of the year. Revenues are above budget due to recoveries of expenditures for special duties. Capital commitments are at 77% due to the carryover of purchases from 2021 but are expected to remain within 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, except retirements, were in line with expectations and expected to remain within budget.