It appears that Saanich police will provide support for their counterparts in Oak Bay for another five years.
Oak Bay council, in one of its final acts, approved an extension of the two departments’ police services agreement last week. The agreement still has to be approved by Saanich council, which will likely happen at its next meeting.
The agreement, first forged in 2007, will be revised slightly, but its primary elements remain unchanged.
Beginning Jan. 1 the Oak Bay department will pay Saanich $190,654.76 per year for a variety of services. Chief among those are homicide and suspected homicide investigations, which alone amount to $80,000 of that cost.
Saanich will also assist with general crime investigation, administrative support, information technology support and investigative support services – things like forensics, collision analysis, canine services and the keeping of prisoners.
The biggest change clarifies the wording of the section dealing with homicide investigations. Oak Bay Chief Const. Mark Fisher wanted to make sure that his department would still receive support for homicides or suspected homicides that took place during the time period covered by the expiring agreement.
“I wanted to ensure that … we would still receive investigative coverage inclusive of the previous term which we had already paid for,” he wrote in a memo to council explaining the changes. “Without such clarification I feel that we may have been exposed if a historical homicide came to light that had occurred during the life of the previous agreement.”
Since the service agreement began, Saanich police have assisted on two homicide investigations in Oak Bay.
Fisher also addressed discussions Saanich has been having about joining the Vancouver Island Integrated Major Crimes Unit, and what that could mean for Oak Bay.
“There’s no way we could get into that unit for $80,000,” he told council.
In an interview with the News Tuesday, Fisher elaborated: “If Saanich decides to (join the unit) they have to work out an arrangement of some sort for coverage of our homicides, whether they do it through their agreement with VIIMCU or they do it off to the side with their other people,” he said. “But it does give us that certainty of cost, and cost containment over the next five years.”
Outgoing Mayor Christopher Causton, who chaired the Oak Bay police board, is pleased to see the agreement being renewed.
“We are extremely well-served by this agreement with Saanich,” he said. “We not only have really good service, but it’s the fact that we’ve worked on this together. It’s that kind of service agreement that serves the community in good stead.”