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Victoria is facing a public-safety crisis

daftandbarmy

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Poor Peelers.... the Zombie apocalypse is here and they're not getting much help:

Victoria is facing a public-safety crisis​

Stephen Andrew / The Times Colonist

A commentary by a Victoria city councillor.

The City of Victoria is in a public-safety crisis. The first step to solving the growing threat to public safety is to acknowledge it as real and take immediate action. If that is not done, it is difficult to see how we can continue to function as a city.

Our police, bylaw and animal-control departments are in crisis. They are understaffed and overworked. The tone from inside these departments is that “we are dropping like flies.”

The numbers speak for themselves. VicPD has 52 members unable to be deployed due to injury or PTSD, including 17 recruits at the Justice Institute. Hours lost to injury and PTSD tripled since 2018, from 1,051 to 3,361.

It’s getting worse, with assaults on officers, including being knocked unconscious, attacked while volunteering and recently even being struck by a stolen vehicle.

VicPD often runs below minimum staffing numbers for patrol shifts. At one time, officers were glad to work overtime, but no more. They are increasingly burnt out and shifts are going unfilled.

The response time for “priority one” calls, such as threat to life or assault, is now 15 minutes.

Chief Del Manak tells council this is “an unacceptable level.” That is an understatement — it is dangerous.

Morale is badly diminished. Numerous sources say from 10 to 18 officers are actively looking to leave VicPD for other departments such as Saanich, Oak Bay, Surrey and the RCMP. Several veteran officers recently said they have never seen morale so low.

The union says part of the problem is that VicPD handles more work per officer than any other capital region police department, and those VicPD officers get less pay.


Comment: Victoria is facing a public-safety crisis
 

Brad Sallows

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People are under pressure, so those who interact with people get some of the cook-off.

Obvious solution: take some of the pressure off of people.
 

YZT580

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Seriously, if covid restrictions were cancelled and people were allowed to return to normal living would this result in fewer incidents of rage? I wonder because it dominates conversation, it dominates the news and it absolutely controls behaviour.
 

Humphrey Bogart

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They are too busy giving people with their dogs off the leash tickets to care.

My wife works in downtown Victoria, it's a shit show of epic proportions most days. She had the Police at her work a few times last week.

They've hired full time security but they are basically useless. Personally I see a huge untapped market for professional security services in Victoria. The problem is nobody is willing to pay for it.... yet.
 

SeaKingTacco

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Well, some of the city council called for the police to be defunded.

I guess they now get to see what that looks like, up close and personal…
 

Ostrozac

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People are under pressure, so those who interact with people get some of the cook-off.

Obvious solution: take some of the pressure off of people.
That would seem to be a nation-wide solution to what appears to be a city-wide problem.

So what’s specificly going wrong in Victoria? Gang war? The original article cites a union statement that VicPD has higher workloads and lower pay than any other capital region force, but is that true? therepository.ca has Victoria listed as 18th highest salary in the country for a 1st Class Constable, ahead of Toronto, Fredericton, RNC, VDQ and Halifax, which also police provincial capitals.
 

brihard

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That would seem to be a nation-wide solution to what appears to be a city-wide problem.

So what’s specificly going wrong in Victoria? Gang war? The original article cites a union statement that VicPD has higher workloads and lower pay than any other capital region force, but is that true? therepository.ca has Victoria listed as 18th highest salary in the country for a 1st Class Constable, ahead of Toronto, Fredericton, RNC, VDQ and Halifax, which also police provincial capitals.
By “Capital Region” I believe it refers to the region around Victoria, BC- the provincial capital. There are a dozen odd municipalities, of which Oak Bay, Saanich, and Central Saanich have their own (slightly higher paid) police forces- though the difference in pay in practical terms is minimal. RCMP I think have most of the rest of the region, and their pay was laughably worse until quite recently, but that’s no longer the case. That said, Victoria Police are within 3% of the pay of the others in either direction. I really don’t think that’s the difference. Rather, Vic have to deal with the ‘urban worst of it’, it seems the political support isn’t there, the west coast is a socially difficult environment to be a cop anyway, and they’ve been forced to watch things get markedly worse without the necessary support to properly act on it. I don’t envy them. At this juncture it would be very appealing to jump so an easier go in another police service, especially if there’s pension portability.
 

daftandbarmy

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Well, some of the city council called for the police to be defunded.

I guess they now get to see what that looks like, up close and personal…

The article's author is a Victoria City Council member.

Interesting....

Councillor Stephen Andrew​


Biography​

Stephen joins the City of Victoria as Councillor after winning the 2020 by-election.

The former journalist is best known for his work as a television reporter, anchor and radio talk show host who has worked for several news outlets including CTV, CBC, CHEK, and C-FAX radio. His work has been recognized with 10 Edward R. Murrow Awards and the Jack Webster Award for Best Television Reporting.

Following his journalism Stephen worked as a communication consultant and was the Executive Director of a national cancer patient and caregiver charity. He is a survivor of metastatic cancer with close to 10 years of no evidence of disease and speaks regularly about his experience and offers peer support to fellow patients.

He was instrumental in drawing attention to the need for oral therapy for metastatic kidney cancer patients and convinced the Government of B.C. to pay for the therapy for all B.C. patients.

His work covering the issue of homelessness has been recognized by the Victoria homeless and First Nations community and his reporting on public health is accredited with an Award of Merit from the Public Health Association of British Columbia.

He is the Vice Chair of RunSport, the society that produces the TC10K, a board member of the Greater Victoria Labour Relations Association and he served on the boards of the Victoria Press Club and Lifetime Networks.

Stephen’s volunteer work includes helping to raise money for many community organizations including the Victoria Citizen’s Counselling Centre, the BC-SPCA, Kaleidoscope Theatre, Intrepid Theatre (producers of the Victoria Fringe Festival) and Camp Goodtimes through the Canadian Cancer Society. He is a strong advocate for community and the arts.

 

mariomike

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The Response Times to Priority 1 calls increased from 6.57 in 2016 to 7.55 in 2020.

The article says it is now 15 minutes. Is that from an official source speaking on behalf of the department?
 

daftandbarmy

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The Response Times to Priority 1 calls increased from 6.57 in 2016 to 7.55 in 2020.

You can get a pizza delivered faster than that.

The article says it is now 30 minutes. Is that from an official source speaking on behalf of the department?

You can get a pizza delivered faster than that.

This is from the police department web site:

 

Colin Parkinson

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Victoria is cursed with nice weather year round, so if your going to be homeless its a good place to do it.
 

FJAG

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Victoria is cursed with nice weather year round, so if your going to be homeless its a good place to do it.
That's why they are there in such numbers but lets face facts, much of the violent homeless problem has its genesis from the process of deinstitutionalization which took hold in the country (actually continent) around the mid 1970s and spanned several years. Deinstitutionalization replaced many mental health institutions by a loose grouping of homes, care homes, and half way houses with far too many diverting to the streets, general hospitals and, all too often, jails.

It's politically incorrect to point out that the system, while laudable, may have gone too far and lost control.

The problem that Victoria is, and other cities are, facing is less a police problem but more a mental health services problem.

🍻
 

brihard

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That's why they are there in such numbers but lets face facts, much of the violent homeless problem has its genesis from the process of deinstitutionalization which took hold in the country (actually continent) around the mid 1970s and spanned several years. Deinstitutionalization replaced many mental health institutions by a loose grouping of homes, care homes, and half way houses with far too many diverting to the streets, general hospitals and, all too often, jails.

It's politically incorrect to point out that the system, while laudable, may have gone too far and lost control.

The problem that Victoria is, and other cities are, facing is less a police problem but more a mental health services problem.

🍻
So long as you'll call that inclusive of addiction, I'd agree.
 

Colin Parkinson

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Back in 2004, visiting Malaysia and my sister inlaw is sort like a Director General level in the Health Ministry, she was talking about how Malaysia was considering going the same way. I told her it was a failure here as the it actually takes more community resources to look after them than in institutions and it's unlikely the governments will fund the municipalities to deal with the issue. but it's a great way to balance your books and remove a problem to another level of government.
 

daftandbarmy

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Back in 2004, visiting Malaysia and my sister inlaw is sort like a Director General level in the Health Ministry, she was talking about how Malaysia was considering going the same way. I told her it was a failure here as the it actually takes more community resources to look after them than in institutions and it's unlikely the governments will fund the municipalities to deal with the issue. but it's a great way to balance your books and remove a problem to another level of government.

The Cuckoo's Nest lives!

We have a whole downtown core now dominated by residential institutions. Low rent hotels that have been purchased (at a cost of tens of millions) by the province to house the homeless.... many of whom also happen to have outstanding warrants from across Canada.

They don't have enough qualified staff to man them though so, of course, things are going off the rails on a regular basis.
 

Humphrey Bogart

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That's why they are there in such numbers but lets face facts, much of the violent homeless problem has its genesis from the process of deinstitutionalization which took hold in the country (actually continent) around the mid 1970s and spanned several years. Deinstitutionalization replaced many mental health institutions by a loose grouping of homes, care homes, and half way houses with far too many diverting to the streets, general hospitals and, all too often, jails.

It's politically incorrect to point out that the system, while laudable, may have gone too far and lost control.

The problem that Victoria is, and other cities are, facing is less a police problem but more a mental health services problem.

🍻

I only think this is half true. Mostly because they didn't have the proliferation of Synthetic Opioids back then.

Lets call Victoria's problem what it really is: A drug problem. Everyone knows the West Coast is a huge drug traffickers paradise.

Once someone has touched heroin or crystal meth, they are basically screwed. The relapse rate after treatment and getting sober is around 90%.

Yet, everyone seems to want to throw more money at the problem with the same old solutions: "mental health" funding, "treatment" programs, etc.

I'm not convinced any of our present solutions do anything of any value other than create a "mental health" industry and a bunch of people dependent on the State for handouts.

I am also not in the camp that "legalizing everything" is the solution either. We are basically already operating in a World where the consequence of you being a junkie is, legally speaking, zero.

The Cuckoo's Nest lives!

We have a whole downtown core now dominated by residential institutions. Low rent hotels that have been purchased (at a cost of tens of millions) by the province to house the homeless.... many of whom also happen to have outstanding warrants from across Canada.

They don't have enough qualified staff to man them though so, of course, things are going off the rails on a regular basis.

It's honestly crazy that this is a thing and people somehow think this is a solution. The Police are basically powerless to do anything either.

At my wife's work not too long ago, a homeless person stole a lady's purse right out of their hands and ran off. The Lady's husband followed the man to one of the hotels that the City had bought and called the Police. The Police showed up, wrote a report and then did nothing as they "needed a warrant" to enter the premises LOL.

Like I said, I think there is a strong case developing for future use of private security in Victoria and not of the typical overweight Mall Cop variety you see either.

In Spain, homelessness is a massive problem as is squatting. One of the tactics squatters use is move in to an unoccupied house then demand a ransom from the owner to leave.

There are now privatized security services that specialize in dealing with removal of homeless and repossession from squatters. They are run by former military, police, professional fighters and if you run in to the unfortunate event of having squatters move in, they will negotiate and remove them for you.

Here is one such company: Desokupa tu Vivienda con FueraOkupas. Empresa de Desocupación

BBC Article on the company:

On Michael's terrace, a group of young men were drying clothes and playing board games, Michael learned. That relieved him, he says.

"It was not a family that really needed a place to live, they were professional extortionists. So in a way I was relieved, because I knew we could negotiate," he recalls.

What were Michael's options?
He could wait for the courts to make a decision, which could take up to two years. Or he could do it in private.

"People advised me to hire a company that specializes in negotiating with squatters to get them out."

So he contacted OutOkupas .

This company began working three years ago and now receives 150 calls a day, says its director, Jorge Fe. 75% are about tenants who do not pay their rent and 25% about squatters.

His employees are boxers and martial arts experts , he explains, men who are not easily intimidated by the people they are trying to evict.

Once Michael agreed on the terms, at a fee of 3,500 euros (about US $ 4,100), half paid in advance, FueraOkupas visited his property in Sitges.

 
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