The Central Saanich Police Department will soon be dispatched out of the Capital Regional District’s new integrated 911 police dispatch centre – at a cost.
Located in Saanich, the newly constructed, earthquake-resistant 911 police dispatch centre is set to be the first point of contact for 911 callers on South Vancouver Island and will house police call-taking and dispatch for Victoria, Saanich and Oak Bay police departments as well as all local RCMP detachments.
Previously, calls for Greater Victoria were answered among numerous centres – Victoria police, Saanich police and West Shore RCMP – before being transferred to the appropriate agency for dispatch.
Now the Central Saanich Police Department is joining the centre – a move that Chief Const. Les Sylven said is good for the department, but isn’t cheap for the 25-member team.
“Dispatching and 911 has gone through an evolution here in Central Saanich and all police departments,” Sylven said. “We always have the opportunity to create our own standalone dispatch again, but now with technology, it would be cost-prohibitive and it makes much more sense to be integrated.”
Sylvan said the department’s previous contact with RCMP cost roughly $20,000. With the new integrated dispatch system, the Central Saanich department will be budgeting 10 times that amount – approximately $220,000.
“So it’s a significant increase for us … we’ve really benefited from our contract with the RCMP,” Sylven said. “[But] if we were to have our own standalone dispatch it would probably be about $400,000.”
The CRD told Black Press via email that each police agency will have a contractual arrangement and their operating costs will be based on agency requirements such as staffing to call volumes, contributions to shared management and support services, facilities and other related costs.
“For all agencies, there are operational benefits, such as increased scalability and staffing capacity and operational efficiency,” the CRD stated.
Sylven said there will be no difference for Central Saanich community members.
“People can come and report incidents in person at the front counter like they always have,” he said. “It’s just on the back end that you’ll see all our calls going to one location with all the other police departments in the [Capital Regional District].
“It’s not going to be a significant impact, and it just makes sense.”
In 2016, the CRD voted to borrow $16 million for the facility. The project is still under construction but is expected to open in early spring.
The full list of Vancouver Island agencies that will be dispatched from the new centre include:
- Central Saanich Police Service
- Central/Southern Vancouver Island RCMP detachments including the Integrated Roadside Safety Unit, Ladysmith, Lake Cowichan, North Cowichan/Duncan, Outer Gulf Island (includes Pender, Galiano and Mayne), Salt Spring Island, Shawnigan Lake, Sidney/North Saanich, Sooke, South Island Traffic Services
- West Shore RCMP
- Oak Bay Police Department
- Saanich Police Department
- Victoria Police Department