Esquimalt Policing Information Bulletin #1: Esquimalt Council Responds to SolGen Information Bulletin

October 18, 2011

On Thursday, October 13th, the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General (the Ministry) released an Information Bulletin regarding an “Interim Review to Address Victoria Esquimalt Policing.” As the Township of Esquimalt receives policing services from Victoria Police Department, our Township is a key stakeholder in this review process. The Township sees this interim review as a continuation of the Ministry’s ongoing due diligence process carrying on from their Victoria Police Department Police Act Audit: Service Level Review dated March 4, 2010.




Background


Independent of this newly announced “Interim Review,” the Township of Esquimalt has completed an extensive independent review of policing service requirements specifically within our community. The review and associated recommendations report was completed by our Policing and Law Enforcement Advisory Panel (the Panel), chaired by our Mayor and with community members appointed by the Township and the Ministry that was empowered by an Order of Lieutenant Governor in Council, and this review included significant public consultation. Within the review process, an invitation was sent to three police agencies to submit a proposal of services meeting the expressed and specific needs of our Township. Two police organizations, Victoria Police Department and the RCMP, submitted service proposals in response. These proposals, which included proponent presentations and fact-finding interviews, were then evaluated by the Panel in a pre-developed evaluation process. At the end of this extensive evaluation process, the Panel made recommendations to Council for our review and endorsement. As a result of our Council direction, the Panel proceeded to produce a report to the Ministry detailing the process and the resulting recommended actions that the Township would like taken on the Township’s behalf by the Ministry.



As background information related to this extensive program and process, readers may find it useful to review the documentation found on the Police Advisory Panel pages of the Township’s website. Whereas the Township is unable to provide specific detail of what is in the report to the Ministry submitted at the end of June 2011, these publicly posted documents enable the reader to understand what was required in developing the report.


Submission of Report to SolGen


The report submitted to the Ministry at the end of June was compliant with the Terms of Reference created by the Ministry to provide guidelines and direction to the Panel in the execution of their duties and responsibilities in completing the policing and law enforcement review, reporting on that review and providing recommendations. After submission of the report to the Ministry, there have been ongoing discussions between the Ministry and the Township in regards to moving forward with recommendations. The Ministry has asked for additional information on the Township’s plan for moving forward with its recommendations and the Township has provided clarifications. The Township has also informed the Ministry that the additional information requested will require meeting with proponent(s) to obtain further requested details. This work on refining the Township’s “future policing plan” will require the Ministry to revise and renew the Panel’s Terms of Reference to provide those community volunteers to continue on with this task.


Confidentiality of Process


The process of examining policing services in Esquimalt and reporting on the Township’s desired direction to the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General has been, with the exception of public consultation meetings, kept largely “in-camera." This is to respect the direction given by the Ministry on confidentiality in the Panel’s Terms of Reference, and in keeping with the Community Charter on sensitive matters. However, in recent weeks, there has been increased media and public interest in this issue. Additionally, Township staff, Panel members and Councillors have been approached for details. In light of the interest in this issue, the Panel recommended to Council what information could be publicly released for our authorization.


Next Steps


The Ministry asks that “the Esquimalt Policing and Law Enforcement Advisory Panel … address outstanding issues in its future policing plan.”  This requires that the Township openly take actions to (1) get the Panel Terms of Reference revised and renewed, (2) contact the proponents to gain information beyond that possible under the initial Terms of Reference, and (3) proceed with the Township’s action plan that has been held in abeyance awaiting a Ministry decision on the Panel recommendations.



This Information Bulletin is the first in a series to be released to the public. There will be additional information approved for release shortly.



For more information, please contact:

Barbara Desjardins, Mayor of Esquimalt

Tel: 250-412-8600