Indo-Canadian, Del Manak appointed police chief of Victoria

Indo-Canadian, Del Manak appointed police chief of Victoria

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Del Manak, interim Victoria police chief since December 2014, was appointed chief on Tuesday. Photograph By DARREN STONE, Times Colonist

Katie DeRosa / Times Colonist

JUNE 13, 2017

After three Victoria police chiefs hired from outside the department left amid controversy, the police board has appointed Victoria-born-and-raised Del Manak to lead the Victoria Police Department.

Manak, 52, was named Victoria’s top cop three weeks after former chief Frank Elsner stepped down amid two ongoing misconduct investigations.

Manak has served as interim chief since December 2015.

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said the police board broke with tradition and decided not to hold a province-wide or nationwide competition for the chief’s job. Board members interviewed members of the senior command, front-line officers and community members to get feedback on Manak’s performance as interim chief.

“He’s got the smarts, he’s got the passion, he’s got the experience and he has come up within the ranks of this department,” Helps said at a news conference at Victoria police headquarters.

It’s the first time in 26 years the department has promoted a chief from within the ranks. The police board has typically hired chiefs from outside the department, which has rankled some deputy chiefs.

Elsner was the third police chief to leave the department amid controversy.

Bill Naughton was appointed interim chief after Paul Battershill was forced to resign in August 2008 when he was accused of having an affair with a police board lawyer. Naughton was passed over for the job in favour of retired Vancouver police chief Jamie Graham, who was twice found guilty of misconduct.

Manak, who became deputy chief in 2010, was also passed over for an outsider when Elsner, then chief of Sudbury police, was hired in January 2014 to take the reins from Graham after he retired.

Manak said in 24 years with the department, he’s hired almost a quarter of the staff. He acknowledged the department has faced uncertainty amid the allegations against Elsner and said he’s proud of how his officers have conducted themselves during a difficult time.

Manak promised to bring a “sense of stability” and a “sense of strong leadership” to the job.

He said hiring from within sends a message to officers moving up the ranks that they have a chance of landing the top job one day.

Manak said trust between police officers and the public has eroded in other countries, alluding to police shootings and the Black Lives Matter movement in the United States. “We want to avoid this divide and embrace the diversity of our communities.”

He became emotional when thanking his wife, Nicky, 17-year-old son, Rajan, 15-year-old daughter, Kamryn, and 80-year-old mother, Avtar, for their support.

Manak attended George Jay and Central Middle schools before graduating from Mount Douglas Senior Secondary.

His first job was as a paper boy at age 13, delivering the Daily Colonist and working up to sub-manager. He worked at Canadian Tire and volunteered at the Fairfield community police station and the youth detention centre while trying to break into policing.

He was hired by Vancouver police in 1990, spending four years there before joining Victoria police.

Manak worked five years in the Victoria police traffic section and was a collision analyst. He was officer in charge of human resources and ran the department’s patrol division.

“So, to have come up through the ranks and be in a leadership position, I really have an opportunity to connect with our young students and be a role model and inspire them,” said Manak, who received the Order of Merit of the Police Forces in 2010.

Manak has been a visible presence in Victoria and Esquimalt council chambers and at community meetings since taking over as interim chief. He successfully argued for more funding for two new mental-health officers and raised concerns about the demands on frontline officers as they police the region’s urban core.

kderosa@timescolonist.com