Township of Esquimalt: 2022 – Q4

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 Esquimalt and one for Victoria), 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.

Esquimalt Community Information

The Victoria Police Department’s accomplishments, opportunities and challenges from 2022 are best highlighted through the three main strategic goals of VicPD as outlined in our strategic plan.

Support Community Safety

VicPD supported community safety throughout 2022 38,909 responses to calls for service, as well as ongoing investigation of offenses. However, the severity of crime in VicPD’s jurisdiction (as measured by Statistics Canada’s Crime Severity Index), remained among the highest of municipally-policed jurisdictions in B.C., and well above the provincial average. In addition, VicPD’s ability to respond to the volume and severity of calls was challenged significantly in 2022 due to a continuing trend of officer injuries due to both physical and mental health causes, and the outfall of the June 28 BMO shooting.

Enhance Public Trust

VicPD remains committed to earning and enhancing the public’s trust in our organization through the Open VicPD online information hub which allows citizens to access a wide range of information including community service results, quarterly Community Safety Report Cards, community updates and online crime mapping. As a measure of public trust, the 2022 VicPD Community Survey findings indicated that 82% of respondents in Victoria and Esquimalt were satisfied with VicPD’s service (equal to 2021), and 69% agreed that they feel safe and taken care of by VicPD (down from 71% in 2021). VicPD and especially the GVERT received an outpouring of visible support in the months following the June 28 BMO shooting.

Achieve Organizational Excellence

The primary focus for organizational improvements in 2022 was hiring a significant number of new and experienced police officers and staff to fill operational gaps and retirements in the Department. In 2022, VicPD hired a total of 44 staff including 14 new recruits, 10 experienced officers, 4 Special Municipal Constables, 4 jailers and 12 civilians.

In addition, by incorporating high quality training, the Investigative Services Division continued to build capacity to investigate emerging crime trends including: virtual and real kidnapping events, cybercrimes, and human trafficking. In 2022 Major Crimes Detectives received kidnapping training from experts from the National Crime Agency, Kidnap and Extortion Unit, United Kingdom. While the Forensic Identification Section built its capacity to carry out Shooting Incident Reconstruction, a technique that was utilized at the June 2022 shooting at the Bank of Montreal in Saanich; VicPD’s Forensic Identification Section took the lead on the shooting reconstruction component at this complex crime scene.

In 2022 all officers completed mandatory trauma-informed practices training.

VicPD continues to make progress towards our three main strategic goals outlined in VicPD Strategic Plan 2020. Specifically, in Q4, the following goal-specific work was accomplished:

Support Community Safety

The Community Services Division re-instated Reserve duties and hours, and commenced training of a new class of Reserve Constables.

In cooperation with the BC Solicitor General’s Civil Forfeiture Office (CFO), VicPD’s Investigative Services Division is now working with a full time CFO officer, embedded at VicPD, who is assisting with the preparation of civil forfeiture applications. These applications allow the Province to seize assets including money and property when there is evidence that they were used in the commission of an offence. Typically, these seizures are the result of drug investigations where offenders are found in possession of large amount of cash and vehicles acquired through the sale of illicit substances. This CFO position is fully funded by the Province and will enhance VicPD’s capacity to take the profit out of illicit drug trafficking.

The Records Division implemented enhanced report writing initiatives to improve file clearance rates, as reported to the Canadian Centre for Justice and Community Safety Statistics. They also conducted internal assessments of the Exhibit Unit to reduce the amount of property being collected and retained by the Victoria Police Department and to enhance exhibit labelling and storage methods to ensure our processes meet or exceeded industry standards.

Enhance Public Trust

With the lifting of COVID restrictions, patrol members attended community events again and the Community Services Division facilitated new Victoria City Council members to come out on ‘walk-abouts’ with HR OIC and Community Resource Officers.

In cooperation with the Community Engagement Division, the Investigative Services Division’s Strike Force team continues to inform the public through media releases about their ongoing efforts to combat the overdose crisis through drug enforcement. Strike Force focuses their efforts on mid to high level fentanyl and methamphetamine dealers as part of Canada’s National Drug Strategy to reduce overdose deaths.

The Records Division increased emphasis on purging archived files to reduce the amount of data being held by the Victoria Police Department that met the retention period.

VicPD also actively participated in providing recommendations regarding the collection of data on Indigenous and racialized identity of all victims and accused persons as it pertains to criminal incidents through the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) survey.

Achieve Organizational Excellence

In the 4th quarter, VicPD delivered recommendations on the Court Liaison position and created a Missing Persons Investigator position. The Patrol Division also completed in-house training in patrol tactics, less-lethal and training for new and acting NCOs.

The Records Division continued to implement and enhance the use of the Provincial Digital Evidence Management system that allows the department and investigators to store, manage, transfer, receive and share digital evidence, while working with our provincial justice partners on improved disclosure methods and standardization.

In Q4 in Esquimalt, officers received a call from a man who complained that his 28-year-old son had stabbed him. The son then turned the knife on himself and inflicted multiple wounds to his body. Officers deployed CEW and beanbag shotgun multiple times with limited results, which did not stop the male from continuing to harm himself. Eventually the man was sedated and assisted by BCEHS Advanced Life Support.

Officers also responded to a male who had fallen off his roof, providing CPR for eight minutes until EHS/Esquimalt Fire attended. In another call, officers investigated a break and enter through an unlocked door in which garbage was left behind.

Finally, during a roadblock, Traffic members reported a pickup truck that had U-turned and fled away from them. Shortly after, the truck smashed into a tree and two male occupants were seen running across the field at Esquimalt High. Records indicated that the vehicle was connected to a man with outstanding warrants and K9 was brought in for tracking. The passenger was picked up hiding in a construction site and charges were submitted for the driver.

November – Poppy Drive 

Members of the Esquimalt Division worked alongside the Esquimalt Lions for the annual Poppy Campaign.

November – Remembrance Day Ceremony (Memorial Park)

 Chief Manak, Deputy Laidman, Insp. Brown and a contingent of members attended the Remembrance Day ceremony in Memorial Park.

December – Celebration of Lights 

Chief Manak, Deputy Laidman and other staff members attended and participated in the Celebration of Lights Parade.

December – Esquimalt Lions Christmas Hampers 

Inspector Brown, Cst. Shaw, and Ms. Anna Mickey worked with the Esquimalt Lions to prepare and deliver Christmas food hampers to those in need in the Township.

December – Christmas Toy Drive

Esquimalt Community Resource Officer Cst. Ian Diack collected and delivered toys for the Salvation Army High Point Church.

At the end of the year a net operating deficit of approximately $92,000 is expected due to retirement expenditures exceeding the budget. We continue to experience a significant number of retirements, a trend that is likely to continue for the foreseeable future. These numbers are not yet finalized and as we complete the year end process they may yet change. Capital expenditures were approximately $220,000 below budget due to delays in vehicle deliveries and the unused capital funds will be rolled over into the 2023 budget.