A ‘no-holds-barred review’
District of North Vancouver Coun. Doug MacKay-Dunn still has fake track marks on his arm from his days with the Vancouver Police Department working undercover drugs.
He easily recalls his years as an officer walking the beat on Granville Street, working on counter-terrorism, setting up community policing offices in the West End and two stints on the Downtown Eastside.
And those are just a few of the posts he worked.
MacKay-Dunn’s a policeman, through and through.
So it isn’t without experience or background that he weighs in on the trouble faced by the district regarding the expensive integrated teams the Mounties bill the municipality for.
Of course, the RCMP charges all partner municipalities for those services — which include integrated homicide, forensics, police dogs, collision and reconstruction, corporate client services and emergency response — but these speciality units aren’t used equally across the region.
The knee-jerk reaction from district council, says MacKay-Dunn, is to ask why a peaceful place like North Van should have to pay more than $500,000 for a year-round homicide investigation service when there’s only been two such incidents in the municipality in 2011.
And such a query isn’t without merit. Nor are the questions asked by a number of MacKay-Dunn’s council colleagues about contracting-out various integrated services from the RCMP as they are needed. MacKay-Dunn is in favour of such an arrangement. The RCMP isn’t.
The Mounties, he says, like to use the analogy of acting as an insurance provider, the omnipresent safety net ready to handle whatever may happen. The problem, of course, is there’s more than one potential supplier. Both the West Vancouver and Vancouver police departments are but a call away and would gladly be billed for any services rendered.
But the larger systemic problem at issue here, he says, is the “empire building” that has permeated the RCMP, resulting in a “ballooned bureaucracy” that is accountable to no one. To make matters worse, it’s senior levels of government, not the municipalities, that manage all negotiations with the large-scale force.
So, not only are cities being asked to accept whatever cost the RCMP imposes without any understanding of why it’s so, they aren’t at the table when that cost is agreed upon, he says.
“There should be a proper, external audit of the RCMP’s books,” says MacKay-Dunn, who claims he’s been told by a senior RCMP officer about the creation of phantom junior positions put in place only to justify senior-level jobs.
“When someone tells me the RCMP is cheaper than an alternative, I say let me see the org chart [a breakdown of the hierarchy of RCMP positions]. How do we know unless we see it? That’s my problem.”
In addition to a thorough, external audit of the Mounties’ finances, MacKay-Dunn is an advocate for a “top-down, no-holds-barred review” of its policing practices. The core principle of policing, he says, is ensuring the community always comes first.
The three doctrines one must focus on when implementing such a review are: Effectiveness, efficiency and economy.
Effectiveness, says MacKay-Dunn is a simple understanding of whether or not the expected responsibilities are being handled by a police department. Efficiency questions whether or not those responsibilities are being handled in the best possible way and the economic aspect determines whether value for money is being achieved.
That last metric is the one politician’s love to pounce on, he says. But it can only come after effectiveness and efficiency are achieved by a police force.
“I like RCMP officers, there’s a lot of good people who work very hard. But the horsemen [RCMP] tried to be everything to everybody — national police and small-town police,” he says.
“And I believe there’s lots of room for the RCMP to move into the 21st century.”
—with Outlook files