We (The VicPD) need to know when community events are occurring. People are social and want to gather and have festivals and events—they bring us together. So we want to be at them and engaged and be part of the community. Not separate but as community leaders. — DEL MANAK Chamber CEO Catherine Holt sat down with Chief Manak to get his insights into policing in Victoria. What are your priorities as Chief? It is vital that we build community trust through great service. Long gone are the days when the police are elitist and we tell you what we will do. It’s turned around. Police agencies that are progressive and connected do it by being well-respected and building trust and confidence. For example, we need to know when community events are occurring. People are social and want to gather and have festivals and events—they bring us together. So we want to be at them and engaged and be part of the community. Not separate but as community leaders. We conducted a community and business survey in early 2017. In September, we’re looking at the trends and then at our strategic plan—and changing it. If we don’t, what was the point of asking our community and businesses what matters to them? We have a mental health plan to help our community and our staff. We in policing need to do a better job in supporting our staff in health and wellness. We send our men and women into situations most people are not comfortable with. They are often dealing with so much trauma it can trigger posttraumatic stress. Sometimes it’s one troubling incident and other times it’s the cumulative effects of many incidents. It can happen to anyone on our staff. We need to recognise when people are put into those difficult situations and build resiliency and self-care. They need follow-up discussions to determine what response is required, such as time off, counselling, or peer discussion. Instead of leaving it and then finding out they are emotionally injured months or years later—and in the meantime helping people while not in best mindset to do it. And then there’s the mental health and addiction issues in our community. Policing is very different now. VicPD responds to everything because there is no one else there 24/7. It’s not about law enforcement and crime rates. It’s about
community care. Calls for service are up 16 percent over the last five years. That includes the totality of what we respond to so we can maintain social order. Upwards of 60 percent of our work is social, not law enforcement. The tone of every organization is set at the top. What tone do you set? What we do matters. Our community and investing in our people is most important. We have some of the best, most progressive, highly competent and engaged leaders in this police department at all levels. That starts from hiring them with the right skill set and competence: independent thinkers, problem solvers and people who care about their community. Then we need to give them the right tools and training and mentorship. What have you been doing to overcome problems with the department’s culture, related to the actions of the previous three chiefs, and build the culture that you’re talking about? Well, first of all, I’m born and raised in Victoria. I’ve come up through the agency. I’ve had the opportunity as head of HR for three years to hire over a quarter of the staff that are here now. I know our people, believe in them and trust them.
move people along that looked like they posed a threat—not for enforcement. We got significant feedback that people felt that having police around had a positive impact. And we want to get ahead and prevent crime and use technology to help us. We equip our officers with smart phones and predictive analytics. You can use data to look at crime in a neighbourhood or a crime that is trending. You can look forward and prevent it by predicting where, when and what crime is likely to happen. But how do we meet expectations given taxpayers’ unwillingness to pay? I would like us to look at a regional approach to help share the load. In addition to the expectation that you maintain social order, there are criminal threats to Victoria, like the Hells Angels’ involvement in local pot stores, gang violence, on-line targeting of children, terrorist threats. How do you keep your eye on all of that? Unequivocally Victoria and Esquimalt are safe, but safe because VicPD is attentive to where crime trends are going. We work with RCMP and national security enforcement teams on terrorism and on ensuring violent extremism and radicalization is not occurring in our community.
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And I have a “made in Victoria and Esquimalt” solution. I’m not trying to import a program or culture or initiative from outside the department. I think that’s what police chiefs often try to do without understanding what the current climate and culture is within the organization. What are your biggest challenges? Educating the public and politicians on the work load. An investigation that used to take minutes now takes hours or a whole shift because of new policing and investigation standards and higher public expectations. The public wants police to be visible. They feel safer, especially with foot patrols. For example, tent city. We were there to calm the community or to
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BUSINESSMATTERS | SEPTEMBER 2017