Chief Const. Del Manak said police have faced many challenges since switching to the new call centre in Saanich. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)

Victoria residents face long holds for non-emergency police calls

Victoria police face challenges ‘on many fronts’ since switching to E-Comm call centre

The Victoria Police Department has faced problems since transitioning to a regional call service station this year.

On Jan. 22, VicPD joined dozens of other municipalities and RCMP detachments to congregate its emergency and non-emergency calls to the E-Comm 911 call centre in Saanich. Since then, the public has faced long wait times for non-emergency calls, sometimes waiting up to 40 minutes. Others have also faced delays in emergency calls, though on a much smaller scale.

“The transition has been less than fluid,” said VicPD Chief Const. Del Manak. “I still like the idea of it, but when it comes to the practical application it’s had a significant impact on our community, specifically people phoning the non-emergency line.”

ALSO READ: Greater Victoria’s new $13 million E-Comm 9-1-1 call centre up and running

These kinds of waits can have dire consequences, Manak explained.

“When that happens many people hang up,” he said. “Now we have crime happening in our community and it’s not reported so we’re not aware. If we saw a trend we could try to find out who’s responsible, and we could rededicate and reprioritize our resources… but we may not know that if people aren’t calling in.”

Some people who get frustrated then try to head to the police station in person, something front staff can’t handle since all reports need to go through a phone call first.

When officers do show up after receiving a call, Manak said, they often get an earful for being late and not caring about the community.

“It’s really impacting our brand,” Manak said. “It’s been really challenging on many fronts.”

Manak has spoken with E-Comm about the issues, and received reassurance that changes are being made. A new supervisor has been brought down from the mainland to help oversee the changes.

E-Comm said they are taking a multi-pronged approach to the delays.

ALSO READ: Now 911 call takers can help in 170 languages

“We’ve been open about the challenges that have been happening about longer-than-normal wait times,” said Jasmine Bradley, corporate communications manager for E-Comm. “The main issues have been staffing, increasing call volumes, and calls coming into the non-emergency number that aren’t actually police matters.”

On Vancouver Island from January to Oct. 31, E-Comm said it’s answered 78 per cent of its 140,000 non-emergency calls in five minutes or less, and 91 per cent within 10 minutes. For its emergency calls, 97 per cent have been answered within five seconds.

To try and improve those numbers, E-Comm is hiring more staff and has changed its training models to make sure staff are feeling better prepared and supported in hopes of increasing retention.

“It’s a very rewarding job, but it’s not for everyone,” Bradley said.

An education campaign is also being put out to let people know what is not a police matter; common but inappropriate calls include reporting traffic closures, power outages, garbage piles or asking questions about bylaws.

E-Comm will also be installing technology updates, including voice recordings giving examples of when it’s appropriate to call 911, the police or someone else.

“Our number one goal at the end of the day is to provide quality service to the public and to the police services,” Bradley said.

Improvements in service are anticipated in the near future.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

Like us on Facebook Send a Tweet to @NicoleCrescenzi
and follow us on Instagram

Just Posted

Curtain closes on Sidney’s Star Cinema location

The iconic theatre will move to a temporary location after its last showing Sunday

Camosun student starts bursary program for low-income students

The Jor-Dawn Smith Bursary will go to one Greater Victoria graduate in spring 2020

Victoria property company plans to replace Saanich apartments with townhouses

Abstract Developments plans 26 townhouses for Gorge Road West

Heads up! A new take on A Christmas Carol comes to the Mac

Wonderheads tackle the beloved Dickens classic, Dec. 17-18 at Victoria’s McPherson Playhouse

Hopeful Sidney pot shop owner challenges town in court after application denied

A court petition has been filed against the Town of Sidney

VIDEO: Boys help rescue Cariboo bear cub

The cub, weighing just 24lbs, has been taken to wildlife sanctuary in Northwest B.C. for the winter

Greater Victoria 2019 holiday craft fair roundup

Get a jump on your holiday shopping

Kelowna man attempts to steal bait bike from RCMP parking lot

38-year-old Brian Richard Harbison is facing several charges

‘Things haven’t changed enough:’ Ecole Polytechnique anniversary prompts reflection

Fourteen women were fatally shot by a gunman at the Montreal school on Dec. 6, 1989

Bear raids freezer, gorges on Island family’s Christmas baking

Hungry bruin virtually ignored meat and fish, focused, instead, on the sweets

Second warning on romaine lettuce from California region as another E. coli case reported

Two cases of E. coli have been reported in relation to the illness in the U.S.

Residents in B.C. city could face 133% tax hike in ‘worst case’ lawsuit outcome: report

An average home could see a tax increase of $2,164 in one year

POLL: Will you be donating to charities over the holiday season?

Many here in Victoria joined others around the world to take part… Continue reading

Most Read