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Second Request for Review filed with OIPC regarding the University of the Fraser Valley

A month ago, I filed my second Request for Review with the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for British Columbia regarding the University of the Fraser Valley. I am trying to learn about the RCMP University Research Chair and the UFV Centre for Public Safety and Criminal Justice Research. These efforts have been made pursuant to Sections 4 and 52 of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA).

University of the Fraser Valley

Pretty much everything you need to know about this situation is described in Section 8(g) of my complaint:

“I believe the University is in possession of documents described above, but they simply do not want to give them to me. The records in question provide a legal framework for significant funding and sponsorship agreements between the University and various public and private partners. If the documents were truly missing, their absence would undermine the integrity and credibility of most of the criminal justice research conducted by the University during the past seven years.”

Darryl Plecas now professor emeritus at UFV

In June, Darryl Plecas was named professor emeritus at the University of the Fraser Valley:

“In 2006, he was selected to be the first occupant of the RCMP Senior University Research Chair at UFV, and from 2006 until recently he was Director, Centre for Public Safety and Criminal Justice Research at UFV. He received UFV’s Teaching Excellence award in 2001, and taught Criminal Justice 105, an introductory course, 105 times over the decades.

Plecas was also one of UFV’s most well-known faculty members, regularly featured in the media for his work and his expert opinion on local, national, and international news stories.

Now it’s time for Plecas to make some changes of his own. Recently elected as MLA for Abbotsford South, he will be retiring from his faculty position at UFV this year. In addition to his MLA duties, he was recently appointed parliamentary secretary (for crime reduction) to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General.

But the university wasn’t quite ready to say a final goodbye to someone who has been a core part of its development for 34 years. So Plecas has been named a professor emeritus at UFV, an honour reserved for faculty members who have provided both long service and exceptional contributions to the university.”

Given Mr. Plecas’ role as a newly elected MLA, and his appointment as a parliamentary secretary for crime reduction, it is worthwhile reviewing the entire body of his published criminal justice research. Is his scientific research accurate? Did he declare any potential conflicts of interest? Did he outline his funding sources? How do other criminologists view his work? What has been the impact of his work throughout British Columbia? Throughout Canada?

I will attempt to answer some of these questions in the coming months.

Canadian journalism award goes to author who profiled LEAP

The Canadian Bar Association, with 37,000 members, has given its 2013 Stephen Hanson print award to Paul Webster. The award is for excellence in legal reporting.

The winning article, entitled “The War on the War on Drugs,” featured Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) and Stop The Violence BC.

Thank you to long-time LEAP volunteer Steve Finlay, as well as Dr. Evan Wood and his amazing team, for their collective efforts in support of this article. Finally, congratulations to journalist Paul Webster, who pursued this important story with determination and integrity.

The Big Parade

Walking the beat makes a difference

This essay – Broken Windows – by George L. Kelling and James Q. Wilson is very interesting. You won’t necessarily agree with all of it.  But it will get you thinking about law enforcement and the role of a constable in our society. I first found this document on the excellent web site of Peter Moskos. There was a comment beside the link that said, “If nothing else, read this.”

Here is an excerpt:

“In the mid-l970s The State of New Jersey announced a “Safe and Clean Neighborhoods Program,” designed to improve the quality of community life in twenty-eight cities. As part of that program, the state provided money to help cities take police officers out of their patrol cars and assign them to walking beats. The governor and other state officials were enthusiastic about using foot patrol as a way of cutting crime, but many police chiefs were skeptical. Foot patrol, in their eyes, had been pretty much discredited. It reduced the mobility of the police, who thus had difficulty responding to citizen calls for service, and it weakened headquarters control over patrol officers.

Many police officers also disliked foot patrol, but for different reasons: it was hard work, it kept them outside on cold, rainy nights, and it reduced their chances for making a “good pinch.” In some departments, assigning officers to foot patrol had been used as a form of punishment. And academic experts on policing doubted that foot patrol would have any impact on crime rates; it was, in the opinion of most, little more than a sop to public opinion. But since the state was paying for it, the local authorities were willing to go along. Five years after the program started, the Police Foundation, in Washington, D.C., published an evaluation of the foot-patrol project. Based on its analysis of a carefully controlled experiment carried out chiefly in Newark, the foundation concluded, to the surprise of hardly anyone, that foot patrol had not reduced crime rates. But residents of the foot patrolled neighborhoods seemed to feel more secure than persons in other areas, tended to believe that crime had been reduced, and seemed to take fewer steps to protect themselves from crime (staying at home with the doors locked, for example). Moreover, citizens in the foot-patrol areas had a more favorable opinion of the police than did those living elsewhere. And officers walking beats had higher morale, greater job satisfaction, and a more favorable attitude toward citizens in their neighborhoods than did officers assigned to patrol cars.

These findings may be taken as evidence that the skeptics were right – foot patrol has no effect on crime; it merely fools the citizens into thinking that they are safer. But in our view, and in the view of the authors of the Police Foundation study (of whom Kelling was one), the citizens of Newark were not fooled at all.  They knew what the foot-patrol officers were doing, they knew it was different from what motorized officers do, and they knew that having officers walk beats did in fact make their neighborhoods safer.”