VIPIRG's response to proposed VicPD budget increase
City of Victoria Mayor and Council
Victoria City Hall
1 Centennial Square
Victoria, BC V8W 1P5
January 26, 2017
Dear Mayor and Councillors,
We at the Vancouver Island Public Interest Research Group are writing to inform you that we are opposed to the Victoria Police Department’s proposal to add $240,000 for the purpose of hiring two officers to the Assertive Community Treatment mental health teams to their $52 million/year budget.
We believe that:
- Police officers are not mental health workers.
Police officers are not appropriate personnel for taking part in mental health work because the police mandate of enforcement, especially including surveillance, is incompatible with the trust required for a therapeutic relationship.
- The Victoria Police Department’s officers are neither properly nor thoroughly educated and trained on mental health issues and responses.
We do not believe that the Victoria Police Department’s proposed approach considers:
- Systemic barriers created and upheld by law enforcement such as an extensive history of policing mental illness, poverty, homelessness, and addiction.
- Proper consultation and deliberation with the population whom this budgeting decision affects.
- Investing money into affordable housing, community-based and culturally safe mental health services, and harm reduction programs that address drug use in a non-criminalizing, non-stigmatizing manner.
- Funding or creating local mental health initiatives that emphasize non-coercive intervention, including stabilizing resources such as provision of safe, decent and non-institutionalized housing, access to adequate therapeutic services, and creation of strong social support networks.
Thank you for your time.
Vancouver Island Public interest Research Group, Board