Someone wise once said, overcoming adversity only makes us stronger.
We hope that applies to the Oak Bay Police Department. The organization is undergoing separate reviews of its operations and structure and is embroiled in a discrimination case brought by a female officer against the police board and two male supervisors.
Having all three things going on concurrently – the RCMP review of the department’s structure was due back Friday – had the potential to shake OBPD to its core and threatened the stability of policing the municipality.
The combination of analyses from different angles appears to be a perfect storm of critiques. But the goal is to help bring positive change to a department whose members, according to interim chief Derek Egan, have “a lot of time on their hands” given the relatively low crime rate in Oak Bay.
The discrimination case did not, on its own, lead to the reviews. It does dovetail perfectly with retired judge Alan Filmer’s look at department policies, workloads, employee complaints and the amount of overtime.
Among the questions we would ask are, is the department professional enough in its operations to provide an appropriate level of service to the community? And do officers and management have barriers to doing their job to the best of their ability?
No organization is perfect. But it’s fair to expect public sector departments to be inspected now and again to ensure the public is getting the most for its tax dollars.
As for the human rights complaint, time will tell how it turns out. We may never know the absolute truth of the matter, especially if it is a case of one person’s word against another.
At least, the department and police board should look at how officers of differing gender interact, so a professional and respectful work environment exists for all police department employees, from the chief to the office staff.
Anything less hampers their ability to serve the public, which is what we’re paying for.