Victoria Police Department says costs for overtime associated with protests and demonstrations skyrocketed in 2020, following a trend of more demonstrations over the past four years.
In a release, VicPD said that in 2019 the department attended 40 public rallies, protests, demonstrations and marches, accumulating $82, 765 worth of overtime for police.
Between Jan. 1 and March 5 of this year, however, costs jumped to $183,037 after attending 34 larger protests.
“In an effort to ensure that participants and others are kept safe at these events, officers monitor the events from a public safety perspective, interact with organizers through our community liaison officers, provide traffic control on roads, bridges and intersections and escort participants during events on public roadways to ensure the safety of all involved,” the VicPD release reads.
“Whenever possible, on-duty resources are used to provide public safety. However, if the size and complexity of an event requires it, additional officers will be deployed on overtime to ensure public safety.”
VicPD added that these are only overtime costs, and do not include costs associated with regular daily work of officers and staff who may have been in attendance, or for overtime costs for any partner agencies that help VicPD through the Integrated Public Safety Unit.
Some of the larger group demonstrations at that time were organized by environmentalist groups such as Extinction Rebellion, student walk-outs and a series of large demonstrations and sit-ins by supporters of some Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs in their campaign against the Coast GasLink installation in northern B.C. The largest seen so far in 2020 was the Global Action Climate Strike when 10,000 people gathered in the downtown area.
Chief Const. Del Manak said that in recent years there’s been a trajectory for increased demonstrations, comparing to 2017 which only saw 14 demonstrations, to 2018 when there were 28, to 2020 when in the first quarter of the year there were 34.
“There are more strains on our resources because we are the policing service in the Legislature jurisdiction,” Manak said. “That’s why we’re left with the responsibility of managing issues that are far outside of the city.”
Manak said VicPD will continue to monitor what is happening and make budget requests accordingly.