BC: Transit Police Seconded Out to Other Forces
Taxpayers livid about high gas taxes, poor transit service and impending fees at park and ride lots will no doubt be dismayed to learn that their TransLink dollars are going to pay for Transit Police to work at the Vancouver and New Westminster police departments.
While buses go mostly unpatrolled by the $27 million transit police force due to “funding limitations,” 11 Transit Police officers, most paid by TransLink, have been seconded to instead work at other police agencies, according to Freedom of Information documents obtained by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.
So, where are these “transit police” officers working, if not on the transit system?
The Vancouver Police Department (VPD) has hosted two officers—one for a full year as part of the Stanley Cup riot review and one for four months on the VPD Sex Crimes Unit. New Westminster also had a Transit Police officer work for four months on its major crimes unit. This means taxpayers in TransLink’s 20 other municipalities are subsidizing policing in Vancouver and New Westminster.
Other seconded officers went to regional units like PRIME (24 months), the Integrated National Security Enforcement Team (19 months) and the Integrated Security Unit (7 months).
Three Transit Police officers have been seconded to the Integrated Gang Task Force (IGTF) for a total of more than four years, with one of the positions paid by the IGTF. Logic dictates that there aren’t a lot of gang members riding B-line buses, and the recent Transit Police audit backs that suspicion: “The Project Team did not see any evidence that the non-recoverable IGTF secondment led to any direct operational or investigative benefits for Transit Police.”
Another Transit Police officer worked for two years with the Integrated Municipal Provincial Auto Crime Team (IMPACT). TransLink taxpayers received very little value for this secondment, as the audit revealed: “The track record of IMPACT at Park and Ride locations has been described as lacking.” The same audit found that one car theft occurs every 17 hours at TransLink’s four biggest Park and Ride lots.
When an Edmonton review suggested last year that Lower Mainland Transit Police officers were bored because, “transit crime and disorder work is not that interesting,” Transit Police Chief Neil Dubord ripped the report as “anecdotal [and] far from authoritative.”
But the pattern of secondments and the recent audit prove the Edmonton review was correct. “The need to provide development opportunities and challenges to frontline Transit Police members was a recurring theme during the interview stage,” said the audit, which suggested personnel exchanges with jurisdictional police forces—although why a stint with the Transit Police would be attractive to a municipal or RCMP member isn’t explored.
These secondments are even more frustrating when one considers that the Transit Police eliminated both a graffiti coordinator and the Transit Centre Liaison Officer program which worked directly with the bus operators. There is enough money to send officers to help out in Vancouver, but not properly police buses?
The expensive Transit Police are a luxury taxpayers cannot afford. Duplicating the work of local police and transit security doesn’t make sense. With fare gates about to eliminate two-thirds of Transit Police officers’ workload, it’s time to rethink this failed experiment and look for cheaper, just-as-effective models of policing our transit system.