Changes already underway at O.B. police department

Recommendations for improvements suggested

The good and the bad of life within the Oak Bay Police Department came to light in a pair of reports released this week.

Retired judge Alan Filmer listed an overworked deputy chief, underworked sergeants, allegations of inequality, too few performance reviews and bikes collecting dust in the department’s basement as problems within the department in his observations of its policies and procedures.

He also wrote in his report that Oak Bay officers love policing the community and work well within four four-member platoons.

Filmer’s analysis, and a concurrent review of the department’s operational structure by RCMP Insp. Alex Graham, were commissioned by Oak Bay’s police board.

The board is also in the middle of a process to select a new police chief, following the retirement last month of Ron Gaudet. Former Saanich police chief Derek Egan was brought in on an interim basis to serve as chief in Oak Bay during the hiring process.

Egan is tasked with reviewing the two reports and formulating a strategy to implement the recommendations in both.

“I think (they all) have value and certainly many of the recommendations have started to be looked at,” he said.

Deputy Chief Kent Thom’s duties have been “realigned” to share the load, he said.

“I find both of these reports to be very useful, positive tools for the department in moving forward in its restructuring.”

Mayor Christopher Causton, the Oak Bay police board chair, saw nothing earth-shattering in the reports.

“They’re operational things, not huge things (that need to change),” he said.

“In any department and in any organization, the attention isn’t paid that needs to be paid to these things.”

The reports also follow in the wake of allegations of inequality and favouritism.

Const. Jennifer Gibbs, one of three women in the 24-officer department, filed a complaint with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal, naming the Oak Bay police board, Thom and Sgt. Ray Maxwell as respondents.

Among Gibbs’ complaints is that she was treated unfairly because she is a woman.

The Oak Bay Police Department hasn’t been the subject of a full review for more than 15 years.

Changes afoot

Reports on the Oak Bay Police Department made these recommendations:

n Develop a clear policy to improve visibility of officers around Oak Bay, utilizing more bicycle and foot patrols, for example;

n Facilitate better communication between platoons on shift changes;

n Draft a policy for consistent performance reviews;

n Offload some duties from Deputy Chief Kent Thom onto sergeants within the department, such as control of everyday operations and investigations;

n Shift the responsibility for the budget to the chief;

n Hire two civilian staff to control exhibits and police records.