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BC: Transit Police Stat Spin Falls Flat

March 04, 2013
BC: Transit Police Stat Spin Falls Flat

On June 1, 2012, I asked Transit Police, under the Freedom of Information Act, for:

Crime statistics, broken down by year from 2008 to present with the following details: file types (UCR code; whether General Occurrence, Tickets or Street Check; plus Z-coded files), location (common name, if applicable, i.e. Surrey Central), city, date, time, founded or unfounded, and disposition (specifically, charges or not). I would like this material similarly formatted to what was released to Mr. Chad Skelton of the Vancouver Sun newspaper.

A month later, they claimed this would take an analyst 40 hours to prepare (a claim I find highly dubious, given our experience with other police detachments, and the fact crime stats can be outputted into a data file very easily). But, still, I reduced the request:

Crime statistics, for the year 2011, with the following details: file types (UCR code; whether General Occurrence, Tickets or Street Check; plus Z-coded files), location (common name, if applicable, i.e. Surrey Central), city, date, time, founded or unfounded, and disposition (specifically, charges or not).

I wondered what was taking them so long, and now I know. While I wanted raw stats, they were trying to spin the numbers into a report for the public who are growing ever more skeptical of the Transit Police. I finally received a response Friday, and this report was posted to their website; it doesn’t fit the FOI request, but that’s a matter I’ll deal with separately with the Information Commissioner's office.

Anyway, some quick thoughts on the Transit Police’s numbers:

- They compare themselves to other forces on cost, but not on crime rates. Here's why: the VPD audit of Transit Police from last year shows on page 55 (point 4.57) that the crime rate on transit dropped 6.8%, while the crime rate in the Lower Mainland dropped 13.9%. Not as impressive a drop when put in proper context.

- The new report says their OT costs are better than VPD. But the VPD audit says TP OT was twice as much as theirs. For you VPD members, that’s  Transit Police HQ trying to throw you under the bus.

  • - They use base salary on p.12 to claim they are middle of the pack for police forces, but ignore their ridiculous perks: the reduced work week, Sunday premiums and massive OT. In 2011, the last year we have numbers for, the average transit cop pocketed just under $98,000.

  • - They include "assists" in their stats, but those can be as simple as requesting SkyTrain pull CCTV footage for other forces. It's not a good measure.

- The average transit cop still works only 10 crimes against the person and crimes against property files per YEAR.

  • Stay tuned!
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