The Vancouver Police Board was unanimous Thursday in approving a $383-million budget for the Vancouver Police Department to operate in 2023 and it includes $13 million to hire 100 officers and $2 million to add 20 civilian staff.
The budget is an increase of 11 per cent or $38.4 million over the 2022 budget and will now go before city council, which will meet Nov. 29 to hear a presentation from the city’s finance team on the overall budget.
Though council still has to vote on the police budget, Mayor Ken Sim and his ABC Vancouver colleagues promised during the recent election campaign to hire 100 officers and 100 nurses. And earlier this week, council committed $16 million to hire the officers and nurses.
The board passed the budget based on the VPD developing a plan by January that shows when and where the 100 officers and 20 civilians will be deployed. The board also agreed to an audit in the new year by the city’s independent auditor general, Mike Macdonell.
Police Chief Adam Palmer told reporters after the board meeting that he anticipated the 100 officers would be spread across the department, including patrol, mental health units, forensics, emergency planning and missing persons’ section.
Palmer said the department hires 50 to 75 officers every year because of retirements and that the 100 officers would be in addition to those hires.
He said he was confident the VPD would be able to fill the positions, noting some VPD officers who left to join the Surrey Police Service have requested to return to the department.
The chief said he felt “really positive” about the direction the board and governments were taking related to public safety, pointing to a flurry of recent promises and decisions made by city council and Premier David Eby.
'Premier David Eby has been fantastic'
Palmer attended a news conference Nov. 20 with Eby, who announced the “safer communities action plan,” which includes cracking down on violent offenders, new models for addictions treatment at St. Paul’s Hospital and expanding mental health crisis response teams.
“The new mayor has been really supportive, and the new council has been great,” Palmer said. “Premier David Eby has been fantastic, as well. And all the stuff I'm seeing coming out of the province and coming out of the city we support, and I think it's going to be good for public safety in Vancouver and in B.C.”
Palmer couldn’t provide a specific end date when all 100 new officers will be working in Vancouver because it depends when each officer begins training at the Justice Institute of BC police academy.
“So if we put in a class in January, they'll be out in nine months, if we put them in May, they'll be out in nine months, so that already moves them into 2024,” he said.
“The September class will graduate mid-year 2024. So even if everybody's approved right now, the earliest they will all be [working] is mid-2024.”