UPDATE: Changes underway at Oak Bay PD

Reports included several recommendations for improvements

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

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 their platoons of four members.

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.

“The police board felt that this was an opportune time to take stock of where we are as a department,” police board chair and mayor, Christopher Causton said in a release.

“The residents of Oak Bay have indicated their overwhelming support and confidence in their police department and are generally very happy with the services they are receiving. However, that does not mean that the board should become complacent.”

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, deputy chief Kent Thom and Sgt. Ray Maxwell as respondents. Among Gibbs’s complaints is that she was treated unfairly because she is a woman.

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

Those recommendations include:

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

• better communication between platoons on shift changes;

• draft a policy for consistent performance reviews;

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

• shift the responsibility for the budget to the chief;

• hire two civilian staff to control exhibits and police records.

ecardone@vicnews.com