Saanich’s incoming police chief says his department faces staffing challenges that could change policing services in the community.
During his inaugural press conference Thursday, Deputy Chief Scott Green, who replaces Bob Downie as Chief Constable come Aug. 1, said Saanich could potentially consider “tiered policing” like the City of Vancouver.
The literature defines “tiered policing” as a policing strategy that mixes regular police officers with other types, such as officers with limited powers, special constables, as well as private security members, civilians and community partners.
An number of municipal police forces have adopted “tiered policing” as a response to competing political demands: they include pressures to reign in rising personnel costs, while satisfying public demands for a diverse range of services increasingly outside the typical categories of policing.
A 2014 discussion paper from the Canadian Police College describes “tiered policing” as an alternative cost-efficient model for police service delivery.
“This policing model allows sworn police to focus their special powers and expertise on ‘core’ policing functions while other police personnel deal with policing issues that might otherwise be unavailable if dependent solely on the availability of a sworn police officer,” it reads.
Green said during his remarks that policing — like health care — requires people on scene.
“All of the technology in the world won’t solve issues,” he said. “You need officers out there at 2 o’clock, at 3 o’clock in the morning, when people are in crisis,” he said. “So I think we have to ensure that we are staffing properly.”
This said, Saanich police also has to look at new staffing models, he said.
Green said some discussions around staffing have already taken place with the Saanich Police Board.
“The police board is very supportive,” he said. “It understands our challenges. I have made it very clear as well though that we will need to look at other policing models potentially to police as efficiently and effectively as we can and look at cost-containment strategies wherever we can.”
Green could not give a definitive date when asked about the timing of tiered policing, should Saanich adopt it.
“I think we have to do some research on that, but I have had discussions with Chief [Adam] Palmer of Vancouver [Police Department], only because they led the way with community safety officers. For things like crime scene containment, evidence logging, different things like that, where there is no risk to the member, you can certainly look at a tiered policing model with a lower cost strategy, not to replace officers or the hiring of regular officers, but to complement that.”
Green made these comments towards the end of his introductory press conference, whose audience included department members of various ranks, civilian staff, the Saanich Police Board, as well as members of council.
Flanked by out-going chief Bob Downie and police board member Mary Collins, Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes announced Green as Saanich’s new top cop not unlike an award show might announce a winning picture.
Green then entered the room to applause from the audience before addressing it. This dramaturgy then repeated itself when Green announced acting deputy chief Gary Schenk as the future deputy chief, starting Aug. 1.
Saanich announced Green as Saanich’s future top cop after a five-month selection process and in the middle of budget discussions across Greater Victoria and growing chatter about the amalgamation of the respective police departments in Victoria, Saanich, Oak Bay and Central Saanich.
Green faced a question about that subject, but never had a chance to answer it.
“That’s not the topic,” said Haynes. “The topic today is to celebrate the promotion, recognition of these two officers to lead the department forward. That question will come another time. Thank you.”