That would allow the board to approve the hire of Greater Sudbury Police Chief Frank Elsner, Victoria's top choice to lead its force. But the police board hasn't been able to ratify the appointment because it has lacked a quorum since Sept. 15, when the B.C. Government abruptly removed four of the five people it appoints.
While the board isn't scheduled to meet until Oct. 8, media reports say Elsner is likely to be confirmed before then. According to a Victoria Times Colonist story on Sept. 27, the board is considering holding an emergency meeting to formally appoint a replacement for current Chief Jamie Graham, whose term ends in December.
The police services board and Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin didn't respond to requests for comment Monday before deadline on when a special meeting might be held.
Since the story broke, Elsner has declined to talk about his future directly, saying he can't comment until a formal decision has been made. But he has made light of the unusual situation on his twitter feed.
“What's with all the new twitter followers today?” Elsner tweeted Sept. 17, after news broke. When Victoria-based journalist Stephen Andrew replied “Surely you jest,” Elsner responded, “I don't and stop calling me Shirley!”
More recently, Elsner has tweeted to public figures in the municipality, including Fortin, Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins and Dave Hodgins, an Esquimalt city councillor. He has also started following several Victoria- and B.C.-area twitter feeds.
The dismissal of the board members is related to policing in Esquimalt, which is serviced by the Victoria department. Unhappiness with the service led Esquimalt to put out a call for bids for policing, with Victoria and the RCMP the only forces to express interest. The B.C. government stepped in and told Esquimalt to stick with the Victoria police, as it moves toward a regional policing model.
In a formal statement, B.C.'s attorney general said appointing new board members was connected to efforts to “ultimately strengthen the Victoria-Esquimalt policing relationship.
“I do recognize the board is currently one member short of a quorum. I can assure you that finalizing our provincial appointments is a priority for government,” Suzanne Anton said.
In Sudbury, Ward 5 Coun. Ron Dupuis, who chairs the police services board, has said the move is easy to understand since Elsner has family in the area.
“Victoria is home for him,” Dupuis said Sept. 17. “His mom is still living there in that area.”
“We, as a police services board, are very lucky to have him as long as we did ...We certainly don't want to see him leave, but we also don't want to stand in his way.”
In Victoria, Elsner will lead a force of 243 police officers and 106 civilian staff, almost identical to the 264 uniform and 105 civilian staff he led in Greater Sudbury. It's Western Canada's oldest force, dating back to 1858.