Police eye possible boost for homicide budget

Oak Bay provisional numbers show need for fund increase

Building a fund for major investigations could see a hike in Oak Bay’s budget this spring.

Council perused a draft police budget recently that included a 2.09 per cent increase for 2017.

Some increase is attributed to cost of living increases, however, the district will also consider building a reserve due to changes in integrated teams.

“We take part in a number of integrated teams… those budgets are set by the deputies for the region,”  Chief Constable Andy Brinton told council. “There are some increases in those items as well.”

A service agreement with Saanich Police Department ended when the Vancouver Island Major Crime Unit was developed in 2012. The unit deals in suspicious missing persons and homicide investigations, which up to that point Oak Bay outsourced to Saanich as part of a contract for $80,000 a year.

“The idea was they could build a reserve and when the day came … there would be a funding source,” Brinton explained, noting homicide investigations can run $1 million to $2 million. Saanich isn’t interested in renewing the homicide portion of the contract for next year. For the past few, Saanich simply used those funds to pay Oak Bay’s VIMCU fees.

“In the budget we’re going to be paying $90,000 to VIMCU; other agencies pay much more,” Brinton said.

The major crimes unit provides a team and major case management. Costs outside of that, such as long-term surveillance or forensics, come from the jurisdiction where the crime takes place.

“The board and myself felt we need to build a reserve here, because we no longer have that reserve in Saanich,” Brinton said.

Oak Bay does have a small reserve in case of historical investigations predating the 2007 agreements with Saanich.

“One of the reasons that 10 years ago Oak Bay entered into an agreement with Saanich was because there had been a murder in the northern part of Oak Bay,” said Mayor Nils Jensen.

That resulted in an expensive investigation, coming from reserves and spurred the contract that wrapped two elements into one: basic homicide investigation and extraordinary costs for $80,000 each year.

Council approved the provisional budget as presented for municipal staff to incorporate into the 2017 financial plan to be considered this spring.