A new unit will be fetching criminals across the region.
The Saanich and Victoria police departments have joined forces to create the Integrated Canine Service.
All six handlers and eight dogs of the $1.25 million operation will be based out of VicPD’s Esquimalt police station, serving Saanich, Victoria and Esquimalt communities. Two of the handlers are from Saanich and four are from VicPD. Six of the dogs are German shepherds. The other two are single-profile explosive detection dogs, which are Labradors.
The partnership will provide police canine service with greater efficiency and value to the community, said Victoria Police Chief Del Manak in a video statement.
“Canine units are not cheap… it’s expensive, [with] a lot of money invested in the dogs maintaining their competency and training,” Manak said.
Canine services are available 24-7.
The dogs have specific duties and are trained in detecting explosives, firearms and drugs, adding a level of capacity to the public safety provided by Saanich and Victoria police agencies, Manak said.
Manak said the Westshore RCMP, who have their own canine department, were invited to join the partnership and showed interest in a year or two.
Saanich Police Chief Scott Green added the partnership has several key benefits to both departments, including cost savings and enhanced seven days a week coverage. The section will build on the success the departments have had with collaborations and innovation.
Saanich Police’s 2020 budget for canine services was $835,000 of the 36 million dollar budget. That drops to $557,000 for 2021 as the cost split for the Integrated Canine Services between Victoria and Saanich is 55.4 per cent ($690,000) and 44.6 per cent, respectively.
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