DEPUTY Commissioner Craig Callens, Commanding Officer of RCMP in British Columbia, in a statement on Wednesday said that the provincial government was clearly made aware that cuts to the provincial policing budget would affect the gang and other major crime units, but the government went right ahead with them.
Callens said: “After significant consultation with my Senior Management Team and the CFSEU-BC Board of Governance, I notified the Province that the budget shortfall would be reflected in cuts to the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit BC and to the Provincial Major Crime program.
“These units were identified as areas where we could manage the impact of the budget shortfall, while maintaining their operations and ensuring that our front-line operations were not touched. I cannot, under the Financial Administration Act (FAA), spend more than I have.
“In order to make up the $4.2 million dollar deficit, CFSEU BC was cut by $2.8 million. This will impact the number of enforcement teams and will be achieved primarily by: reducing the number of teams from six to five (12 positions), maintaining a vacancy pattern and reducing our assistance to partner agencies. Operational support will also be reduced. However, to categorize this as a reduction to our commitment to targeting any particular Organized Crime Group or individual is wrong. Our efforts will continue.
“Within Major Crimes, a budget cut of $1.4 million was made and will impact the Special Projects/Unsolved Homicide / Missing Persons program. This includes the reduction of 13 full-time investigators within various projects.”
The information on the cuts was first reported by Leo Knight in his Law and Order column in the “24 Hours” newspaper on Wednesday morning, and the NDP attacked the government about it in a press statement later in the day.
The media then contacted the RCMP and Callens issued this statement.
Callens said: “Questions have been asked about reductions to the BC RCMP Provincial policing budget. I wish to provide the following statement for clarity.
“Significant progress has been made in recent years with respect to the police response to Organized and Serious Crime since the peak of gang violence in 2008/2009. It was due to the collaboration, partnership, integration, and solid police work by CFSEU BC and partner police agencies. Our Major Crime Units have also remained dedicated over the years to resolve the current and historical missing and murdered cases in this province. Advancements have been made and investigative tools have been enhanced.
“I can confirm that after considerable dialogue with the Ministry of Justice and Police Services Division, they have confirmed a $4.2 million dollar reduction to our overall 2014/2015 Provincial Policing budget.
“Prior to this budget reduction, the BC RCMP had initiated a number of service delivery reviews and measures to maximize the effectiveness of existing resources and realize efficiencies where possible.
“For example, the BC RCMP have significantly reduced the size of our fleet, adjusted shift schedules to better meet demand, reduced travel costs, found innovative solutions for lower-cost training, centralized administrative functions in our new headquarters, and more. Simply put, there are no further savings to be found; and, any budget reductions mean that we have to reduce the size of the provincial police service. This reality was explained to the Ministry and to Police Services Division.”
Callens stated: “We remain committed to delivering quality police services to British Columbians. However, policing costs money and we have less to work with. There will be fewer police officers available in these specialized areas tomorrow than there were yesterday. Our core policing services remain a priority. We will continue to work with our contracting partners and communities during this difficult fiscal environment.”