Consider this your opportunity to police the police.
Later this year the Saanich police department will begin issuing quarterly report cards on itself, telling the community how well or how poorly the force is doing at achieving the goals set out in their strategic plan, released Thursday.
Saanich police Chief Mike Chadwick said it allows his department to be more accountable to the community it serves.
“The community has a right to know what it is we’re embarking on, why we’re embarking on it, and how well we’re doing on what we say we’re going to do,” Chadwick said.
While the 30-page strategic plan is supported by 15 key priorities – which range from drug enforcement to competency development – the “meat and potatoes” are the 106 well-defined goals, or initiatives, the department aims to achieve by 2016.
Every three months, the department will release an online report card updating residents on the tractioned gained on each of the 106 initiatives.
“It’s one thing to come up with a strategic plan, but we got tremendous input from the community – it’s only right and proper that we go out and report to them what it is we’re doing to accomplish the issues they brought forward to us,” Chadwick said, citing 51 community meetings that shaped the document.
Among the lengthy list of initiatives are such goals as adopting new technologies for in-car video systems and virtual workstations, creating a new Community Liaison division, and expanding and better managing exhibit storage.
“The next step will be for council and the police board to meet later this spring and get a good understanding of it. And then council needs to give the police board some expectations of what’s actually achievable in this economy,” said Mayor Frank Leonard, who chairs the Saanich Police Board.
Finances will dictate a good portion of how fast the initiatives are achieved, Chadwick agreed. But he’s confident everything’s attainable.
“I think the way the strategic plan has been written, and the way the work plans are coming out, it’s all doable within the budgets we’ve been traditionally working with for the last many years,” he said.
The one issue that may not be as doable as all the others: remediation of the aging 52-year-old police building on Vernon Avenue.
“I’ve been working towards this for almost 10 years, since I was deputy chief. … Our overall square footage is significantly less than it should be, and it does start to impact on your ability to deliver an effective and efficient service,” Chadwick said. “We had several options put forward by architects (for building upgrades), ranging from significant additions to this building to (constructing) a new freestanding building. A lot of that is based on how much the municipality is able to put forward.”
Public information officer Sgt. Dean Jantzen said some of the initiatives are mandates from the province, such as the Conducted Energy Weapons training recommendations that came from the Braidwood Inquiry, which examined the Tasering death of Robert Dziekanski.
Chadwick encourages the public to provide input on the strategic plan and the initiatives, which is posted online at Saanichpolice.ca.
Avoiding the ‘A’ word
The Victoria Police Department released its strategic plan last November, with an overarching goal of creating an amalgamated police force in the Capital Region.
“We don’t know what we will call it. It could be the Saanich-Victoria Regional Force,” VicPD Chief Const. Jamie Graham said at the time.
But Saanich’s strategic plan makes no mention of a regionalized force.
“Amalgamation is not an issue that we intend to debate or include in our strategic plan,” Saanich police Chief Mike Chadwick said. “We are fully committed, and have always been fully committed, to integrating services – rationalized integration is the way to go. I don’t personally believe amalgamation is the way to go, but I’m mindful that it’s a political decision.”
Among Saanich’s 106 initiatives, however, there are mentions of integrated and regionalized services.
The department would like to see a regional high-speed pursuit policy created and implemented by June. As well, there’s mention that an integrated municipal unit with VicPD could be established to more efficiently conduct computer forensic examinations.
Saanich police are currently under contract with Oak Bay to conduct major crime investigations in that municipality. The strategic plan includes details of how the two jurisdictions will work together “to ensure there is a shared understanding of roles, responsibilities, and expectations” each department’s officers take.
– with files from Erin McCracken
Highlights from the strategic plan
• Expand police cell blocks to house female and youth prisoners, who currently must be sent to Victoria.
• Increase police presence at the University of Victoria.
• Select model to replace Ford Crown Victoria frontline cars.
• Expand the Block Watch and Business Watch programs.
• Purchase Zodiac-style boat to patrol Elk and Beaver lakes.