Budget 2015: Nanaimo RCMP contract

Monday, September 29th is the upcoming eTown Hall meeting where you can ask questions regarding the City of Nanaimo’s budget. The Nanaimo RCMP contract is the second largest budget item.

Policing costs account for 17% of tax dollars collected in Nanaimo. In 2007, there was a 6.7% increase in funding to the Nanaimo RCMP. Currently the City of Nanaimo provides the Nanaimo RCMP with $19 million and that is slated to increase to $20 million per year. In addition, the Nanaimo RCMP has asked for $6.6 million to help upgrade and renovate their police station.

Public Communication
What is the point of using social media when there is only partial information given out. An example below shows a tweet from September 3rd describing the perpetrator of a serious assault incident that occurred on August 17th.

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Tweet re August 17, 2014 assault

How is this information adequate for the public to be of any help? For this same incident, a Crime Stoppers re-enactment video was later made with the Nanaimo RCMP spokesman narrating. This gives the impression that Nanaimo Crime Stoppers is a division of the Nanaimo RCMP which it is not. There should a disclaimer somewhere so that people are not mislead.

Why has the RCMP come to rely so heavily on Crime Stoppers and other volunteer organizations?

Outsourcing Police Work
Before 1950, British Columbia had its own provincial police force with very few detectives. They contracted most detective work to American companies.  When the RCMP took over the responsibility for policing the province, the BC Provincial Police’s “E” Division was absorbed into the fold.

Here we are in 2014 and there are many volunteer organizations at the RCMP’s disposal. These include auxiliary officers, C.O.P.S. (Citizens on Patrol), Speedwatch, Blockwatch and a few others. The biggest group amongst these is the U.S. based Crime Stoppers.

Crime Stoppers – Who runs it?
Crime Stoppers started in the mid-1970s in the United States as a grassroots organization with the idea of helping small-town police forces that had few resources at their disposal. The U.S., unlike Canada, has had a long history of vigilantism and DIY justice – posse groups hunted down alleged wrongdoers (including runaway slaves) and lynched them.

The idea is that an ‘informer’ contact Crime Stoppers with information about criminal activity.  The person who passes along information is protected by the rule of informer privilege so if the case goes to court, the tipster will (hopefully) remain anonymous. According to the Supreme Court of Canada, the identity of the informer is supposed to be unknown to everyone including the Crime Stoppers’ agent who receives the call.

On the Nanaimo Crime Stoppers website, it states “A Tipster’s ‘Anonymity’ is protected by law, in a Supreme Court of Canada decision known as R. v. Leipert.”

Despite this rule, Crime Stoppers exercises its own judgement when passing along the information it receives. In the case of Richard Leipert, the Greater Vancouver Crime Stoppers Association provided the entire tip sheet to the trial judge who viewed the document and then redacted certain information before passing it along. Last May, it came to light that a similar situation arose in Miami, where it was revealed that the Crime Stoppers there emailed the tipster’s information to the prosecutor.

When a detail as innocuous as the time of the telephone call may be sufficient to permit identification, it doesn’t make sense why all that information was being recorded by Crime Stoppers in the first place.

Police Work or Public Relations?
Why would the RCMP have a member working at a store opening? Could the store not hire its own security for the event? Is this the best use of our taxpayer dollars?

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RCMP at Cabela’s store opening

Vigilantes on Vancouver Island
When the police keep promoting volunteers as crime fighters, it’s no wonder that some people have been motivated to solve crimes or investigate them as they see fit.

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Will Vancouver Island go the way of Montreal where the Mafia had its own helpline? On March 14, 2014, the Charbonneau Commission heard the following recorded conversation between Terry Pomerantz and Mafia boss Vito Rizzuto. Pomerantz phoned him after he realized his brand new Cadillac Escalade was stolen. Apparently, Rizzuto had the vehicle recovered and brought back to Pomerantz the next day.

Inverted Pyramids Topple
Why does it appear like the RCMP has few resources to do the actual ‘work’- are all of the funds going to support the top ranks?

We are starting to see the introduction of private prisons in BC for the first time. How long will it before Harper makes the RCMP obsolete? It will be a sad day when the RCMP is gone from small towns. It was a great idea to have a cohesive unit working to solve crimes across the country.  With only so many tax dollars to go around, isn’t it just a matter of time before a private company is going to move in?