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Esquimalt tests police: RCMP 84 vs. VicPD 45

Oct 31 2012

The RCMP's proposal to police Esquimalt soundly defeated the Victoria Police Department's when the two options were assessed by an Esquimalt panel, according to confidential documents obtained by the Times Colonist.

VicPD was outperformed by the Mounties in all but one of dozens of categories - ranging from patrol to traffic enforcement, community engagement, organizational capacity, community support services, budget forecasting, operational costs and performance reviews - when scored by the Esquimalt Law Enforcement Advisory Panel.

The panel, made up of four Esquimalt residents and the mayor, researched the two proposals using a Delta-based company's scoring system to produce the May 2011 report.

In several categories, such as overtime costs, special-event cost sharing, radio systems and vehicle provision, Victoria police received the lowest possible score, the documents show.

After interviewing both forces, the Esquimalt panel awarded Victoria police a score of 45.39 out of 100, and the RCMP 84.24.

The previously secret scores were obtained under freedom of information legislation.

The scores shed light on why Esquimalt council continues to insist the RCMP is its preferred choice, and why some are angry at being forced to stay with Victoria police.

Esquimalt put out a call for new police service in March 2011, after years of complaining about rising costs, slow response times and poor service by Victoria police.

Only VicPD and the RCMP submitted proposals.

Esquimalt council voted last October to drop VicPD and contract with the RCMP, based on the panel's recommendation.

But B.C. Justice Minister Shirley Bond refused to allow the change and ordered Esquimalt and Victoria police to sort out their differences.

The government wasn't part of the panel's scoring process, Bond said Tuesday. "That said, going forward, our paramount concern is that Esquimalt has a policing arrangement that meets the needs of the community and provides an equitable funding formula, fair conflict resolution and a true partnership with Victoria," she said in a statement.

VicPD had proposed a 23-officer dedicated Esquimalt division - with 24-hour staffing and at least one sergeant and four officers per shift - at a cost of $7.13 million in 2013.

The RCMP proposed a 29-officer Esquimalt Municipal Police Service at a cost, after one-time start-up fees, of approximately $1 million a year less than VicPD.

Esquimalt's panel gave the RCMP top marks for community policing, visible patrols and "Serving Esquimalt" signs on the sides of 11 police cruisers.

But the RCMP's proposal didn't include the cost of new buildings, employee compensation and transitioning from the VicPD union, Bond said.

VicPD said it would continue to work in Esquimalt's aging emergency-services building. The RCMP requested $244,750 in immediate upgrades, as well as a new facility.

Documents show Esquimalt priced out a new $12.64-million police and fire building with a possible five-year financing option that wouldn't require public approval.

Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins said Tuesday the law enforcement advisory panel showed integrity with its work. "In my view, it was an extremely well-done process, which was part of my concern with the lack of [government] recognition of it," she said .

VicPD spokesman Const. Mike Russell said his force stands by its proposal. A dedicated patrol for Esquimalt is still under negotiation, he said.

The RCMP said it respects Esquimalt's decision.

"There are many advantages to being served by the RCMP, both in terms of cost and the level of service we provide," said Supt. Ray Bernoties, officer in charge of the operations strategy branch.

"We were confident that our comprehensive proposal would reflect that."

rshaw@timescolonist.com

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