The wheels of justice
Cape Breton Regional Police chief defends issuing vehicles to 13 managers
The chief of the Cape Breton Regional Police Service is denying union allegations that providing publicly funded vehicles for 13 managers comes at the expense of adequate transportation needs for other units.
“This is about a couple of individuals causing trouble. This is a personal attack,” Chief Peter McIsaac said in an interview Thursday when questioned about union concerns.
He said his managers are on call at all times and need vehicles immediately at hand to travel to various crime scenes at all hours of the day.
He said a manager being assigned a vehicle is a necessity, not a perk.
McIsaac said the department’s vehicle policy prohibits using the vehicles for personal use but the union contends there are plenty of examples of managers doing exactly that. McIsaac said he would like to see documented evidence of that.
McIsaac said managers are permitted to take their vehicles home but are told to only use them for police business.
A series of email exchanges between McIsaac and union vice-president Const. Greg Livingstone was sent to various media outlets Thursday, and McIsaac confirmed the content of the exchanges.
“We know how tough times are here in the CBRM and how tight budgets are. It is no longer realistic to think it is acceptable for all managers to have their own vehicles,” Livingstone wrote in one exchange.
“On a personal level, I find it offensive that thousands of dollars that I pay in property taxes are being spent in such a reckless way.”
Livingstone then proposed that only the three most senior positions, including the chief, be assigned vehicles, while the others are distributed across the service’s four divisions.
In response, McIsaac said if vehicles are needed anywhere across the operation, there is a process to be followed and that managers will deal with it accordingly.
“As a directive, don’t send me any more messages regarding this matter. Have a great day,” McIsaac wrote in an email exchange.
McIsaac explained Thursday that his reference to not sending him messages referred to the union following the chain of command, as opposed to involving his office directly.
Livingstone said managers, like union members, should be able to drive themselves to work and pick up their vehicle there.
McIsaac said the issue is being raised in retaliation against a management decision not to employ a mandatory minimum of 23 officers working the back shift during the summer months. He said the force did that last summer but overtime costs went through the roof.
The union is represented by the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union, whose president Joan Jessome said Thursday that McIsaac’s argument is similar to that of the union’s.
“Cars are not sacred cows,” she said, adding that she will be meeting with the union’s executive this weekend to review the situation.
“Why should a vehicle be left in someone’s driveway when it could be used elsewhere?” asked Jessome.
McIsaac said that during his 14 years in police management, there were times when managers did not have access to vehicles and used their own, which he termed “bush league.” McIsaac’s police vehicle is a Dodge Dakota.
Managers who use their own vehicles are entitled to claim a mileage rate of 44.23 cents per kilometre.
A spokeswoman for Mayor Cecil Clarke said Thursday she was unaware of such an issue being raised with the mayor or council.
The police service has a fleet of some 100 vehicles, including patrol cars, bikes and Sea-Doos.
“(The union) do not appreciate what managers do, nor do they care. Managers have to be supported,” said McIsaac.
CAPE BRETON POST The union representing some 100 officers with the Cape Breton Regional Police is questioning why 13 managers are assigned vehicles. The union contends only three need a vehicle and the other cars can be used elsewhere across the service’s four divisions.
CAPE BRETON POST Cape Breton Regional Police Chief Peter McIsaac told reporters Thursday he fully supports the need for 13 police managers to be assigned vehicles. He said his managers work plenty of extra hours and do not receive overtime pay. He said being assigned a vehicle is a necessity, not a perk.