Head of po­lice union should be care­ful about what he wishes

Edmonton Sun - - COMMENT - R. JOHN MCFAD­DEN — R. John Mcfad­den is a re­tired for­mer mem­ber of the Cal­gary Po­lice Ser­vice.

CAL­GARY — Rather than de­mand­ing the res­ig­na­tion of Cal­gary’s Po­lice Com­mis­sion chair be­cause of a “lack of trans­parency” in his over­sight of Cal­gary’s po­lice ser­vice and his fail­ure to heed the ad­vice of Cal­gary’s po­lice union, which led to Cal­gary hav­ing “the high­est auto-theft rate in Canada” in 2017, Les Kamin­ski, the po­lice union leader, might have demon­strated trans­parency him­self.

Trans­parency would re­veal auto theft rates in­creased across Canada dur­ing the last three years ir­re­spec­tive of po­lice con­duct or num­ber, af­ter hit­ting their low­est lev­els in decades in 2014.

It would re­veal the de­crease in ve­hi­cle thefts across Canada prior to 2015 was part of a gen­eral de­crease in crime which re­sulted in Canada’s over­all crime rate fall­ing 52% be­tween 1991 and 2014 when 1.1 mil­lion fewer crimes, 1.8 vs. 2.9 mil­lions, were re­ported than were re­ported in 1991 by 8.5 mil­lion fewer Cana­di­ans, and that the re­cent 'crime wave’ was the re­sult of Cana­di­ans re­port­ing just 950,000 fewer crimes in 2017 than in 1991. (Even the Amer­i­can mur­der rate fell to 45% of 1991 lev­els by 2014 be­fore re­bound­ing to 54% of 91’ lev­els in 2016.)

Canada’s auto theft rate fell 65% from 1996 to 2014 when 106,000 fewer ve­hi­cles, 74,000 vs. 180,000, were stolen than were stolen in 1996 from 7 mil­lion fewer Cana­di­ans.

The 'in­crease’ of the last three years was the re­sult of just 95,000 fewer ve­hi­cles be­ing stolen in 2017 than in '96.

Cal­gar­i­ans might have ben­e­fited from know­ing 34,800 fewer crimes were re­ported in Cal­gary in 2014 than in 1991, 56,200 vs. 90,800, de­spite pop­u­la­tion growth of 530,000 souls in the in­ter­ven­ing years, the com­bi­na­tion of which re­duced Cal­gary’s crime rate to 38% of 1991 lev­els by 2014 be­fore ris­ing to 45% of 1991 lev­els by 2017 and from know­ing Cal­gary’s auto theft rate in 2017 was still less-than-half prior lev­els be­cause 1,640 fewer ve­hi­cles were stolen in Cal­gary in 2017 than were stolen in 1993 from 500,000 fewer Cal­gar­i­ans.

In fact it re­mained lower than it was at any time dur­ing the 1990s.

Not that any such 'trans­parency’ seems likely to achieve the com­mon ob­jec­tive of this union and CPS lead­er­ship, which is to grow the CPS ir­re­spec­tive of work­load or pro­duc­tiv­ity.

Prop­erly in­form­ing Cal­gar­i­ans of the dra­matic crime de­creases of the last 25 years might cause them to ques­tion the need to add more po­lice of­fi­cers still, on top of the 1,000 po­lice of­fi­cers added by CPS lead­er­ship af­ter 1998, be­gin­ning six years af­ter crime be­gan to fall.

Adding those of­fi­cers while crime fell meant that even dur­ing the uptick of 2016 the CPS had only 32 crimes to man­age per of­fi­cer per year which, while an in­crease from 27 crimes per of­fi­cer in 2014, is sig­nif­i­cantly less than the 77 crimes the CPS man­aged, com­fort­ably, per of­fi­cer in 1991 and less than the work­load man­aged by 17 ma­jor po­lice ser­vices in Canada in 2016, all of which ex­pe­ri­enced pro­duc­tiv­ity de­creases as crime fell dur­ing the last 25 years.

If Cal­gary’s Po­lice Com­mis­sion de­manded trans­parency, and pro­duc­tiv­ity, from the po­lice ser­vice it is sup­posed to be gov­ern­ing on be­half of Cal­gar­i­ans, the ser­vice could be im­proved while the cost of polic­ing Cal­gary could be re­duced by tens of mil­lions of dol­lars an­nu­ally, a sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ment over in­creas­ing po­lice spend­ing on the ba­sis of in­com­plete, mis­lead­ing and even false state­ments such as those cur­rently be­ing hurled­about and con­tained in the re­cent CPS bud­get pro­posal which im­proved the CPS 2018 bud­get by $22.8 mil­lion.

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