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Detective office in crisis mode, chief says

Sep 15 2012

The Victoria police department will reduce school liaison officers, close community resource offices and pull people from other units to deal with a critical shortage of investigators in its detective office, Chief Jamie Graham revealed Friday.

Under fire for cutting the department's commitment to Greater Victoria's domestic-violence unit, Graham said he made the move because his department is facing an "absolute crisis" in its detective division.

Graham said the staff shortage means the department is unable to properly investigate a number of high-profile cases.

"We've had sex-trade workers assaulted by what could be a serial predator," he said.

"We've had Internet fraud and Internet crimes that are substantial and have created tremendous harm for many in the seniors' community.

"We have chronic and habitual offenders, which aren't getting the kind of attention they simply have to get."

The Times Colonist asked Graham's department for further details of the unsolved assaults on sex-trade workers by a possible serial predator, but it was unable to provide them.

Graham said he was restructuring the department in consultation with University of the Fraser Valley criminologist Darryl Plecas, who prepared an efficiency report for the department.

The report will be released at a news conference next week.

"I can't go back to the municipalities, because there's just no funds for any more people," Graham said.

"So if I want to make changes, I've got to do it from within."

In addition to pulling one of two officers out of the domestic-violence unit, Graham said he would reduce school liaison officers to two from four, and close a couple of community resource offices.

The moves will free up 10 officers, he said. Five will be added to the detective division and five will join a team targeting prolific offenders.

The department will also be able to focus on the many domestic-violence cases that do not qualify as the type of high-risk files handled by the regional unit.

Graham said the department is managing about 180 such files.

lkines@timescolonist.com rshaw@timescolonist.com

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