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New Saanich police chief rose through the ranks

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Dean Duthie speaks on Thursday at a news conference where he was announced as Saanich's new chief constable. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

Saanich has promoted from within the ranks of its police department and announced Dean Duthie as chief.

Duthie rises from the role of deputy chief, just as his predecessor Scott Green did.

Green served a three-year term and will retire at the end of January.

Duthie, 50, whose selection as chief comes after 26 years with the department, said he is “truly honoured” to follow Green into the role.

Asked about the crime rate in the region and the acts of violence that have been committed against Victoria officers, in particular, Duthie said Saanich police are always concerned about any such trends.

”A lot of those instances didn’t happen within the jurisdiction of Saanich, but that doesn’t make us immune from this issue and this ongoing problem,” he said. “This takes a combined effort through the regional police departments and leadership teams to work together and come up with some strategies that work on a regional basis on that front.”

Social services agencies should also be involved in the effort, Duthie said.

He said there are a number other “ongoing challenges” to deal with as he takes on his new job and a staff of 180 officers.

“Obviously the pandemic is still a concern and with the new emerging variants we have to pay very close attention to their progress and growth.”

When it comes to COVID-19, the department has to continue to ensure the safety of staff and of the service it provides to the public, Duthie said.

He said he will sit down with other department leaders in the new year to discuss priorities. A key priority already in place is equity, diversity and inclusion, which applies to areas such as recruiting and training.

“This is an area that we’ve been paying close attention to in the last year to two years.”

Duthie said he has seen the department evolve during his career, including the social issues that police deal with.

“As we all know, there are many issues on a society basis that are downloaded to police because of us being the service that’s working 24/7 365, and many of these issues may not be related to crime per se,” he said.

“But keeping public safety is our forefront and our focus, and we automatically assume these duties because there is no one else to do them.”

That issue has grown in recent years, Duthie said.

“So that has been increasing over the last several years, and we’re looking for solutions by working with neighbouring police agencies as well as provincial partners and regional partners on a social basis to come up with new solutions.”

Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes, who chairs the Saanich Police Board, praised Green’s work and said the overwhelming majority of public input about the department during his tenure has been positive.

Green’s retirement comes after almost 34 years with the department.

Also announced was the promotion of Insp. Rob Warren to deputy chief, while Gary Schenk continues as the department’s other deputy chief.

jbell@timescolonist.com