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Posts from the ‘Education’ Category

A new RCMP police academy for British Columbia

Note: Permission is granted for the following essay to be reprinted in any newspaper, provided the author info and disclaimer at the end remains intact.

Since 1885, the RCMP has been training recruits at “Depot,” its police academy in Regina, Saskatchewan. While the quality of instruction is not in doubt, Depot’s monopoly on training new officers could be hurting our national police force.  British Columbia needs – and deserves – its own RCMP recruit academy.

“E” Division is responsible for all provincial and federal policing in British Columbia. It also provides municipal policing services, on a contract basis, to 63 municipalities across the province. About one third of all RCMP officers work in E Div. That’s more than 7000 officers, making it the largest division in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Yet time and time again, there are media reports of staffing shortages. These shortages have real impacts on sworn officers, civilian employees and the communities they serve. It is, perhaps, not surprising that the yellow stripe protest originated in British Columbia. This protest has quickly developed into the largest police labour action in Canadian history.

Would officers still be wearing their yellow stripes if every detachment in BC was fully staffed? It’s tough to say. But what we can say is that a new police academy would improve recruiting and training outcomes. It would provide municipalities with confidence that detachment vacancies will be filled. It would create a more diverse candidate pool. And it would send a signal that the RCMP is changing.

Imagine your dream is to become an RCMP officer. You grew up in Kelowna, earned a degree from the University of Victoria, and now you live and work in the Lower Mainland. You’re excited by the Force’s existing commitment to allow you to return home to BC after graduation from Depot.

But there’s a problem: You’re in a new relationship, and you’re not sure it will survive a long-term absence. Or, maybe you have an aging parent whom you’re not in a position to leave for months at a time. Perhaps you have young children of your own. There are all kinds of reasons why someone can’t pick up and move across the country for six months.

Facing this dilemma, would you apply to the RCMP? Or would you apply to a municipal police department in British Columbia? My own choice, made over a decade ago, was the latter.

The winter in Regina certainly doesn’t help. At one point this week – the middle of April – it was minus five degrees Celsius, with winds of more than 20 km/h. And it snowed!

The end result is that instead of hiring the very best candidates, the RCMP is hiring the best candidates who are able to move to Regina.

There is a better way for our province. Pacific Region Training Centre, located in Chilliwack, is the most logical place for a new recruit academy. It is currently used by the RCMP to offer advanced courses to law enforcement agencies across Western Canada. In 2015, the facility opened a $20 million, state-of-the-art indoor firing range. The 60 acre campus has onsite living accommodations for over two hundred students.

Alternative locations include the new E Division Headquarters in Surrey, as well as the Justice Institute of British Columbia in New Westminster. So there are suitable places that exist now. This doesn’t have be a big project involving land acquisition, zoning, construction, etc. The first recruit class could be up and running in ninety days.

British Columbians are headed to the polls on May 9th. During the campaign it is important to discuss positive solutions to challenges faced by the RCMP. For more than 130 years, Mounties have been trained in Regina. Depot is a place that is steeped in honour and ceremony. Now it is time for the RCMP to create new history, and new traditions, by adding a second recruit academy.  Right here in British Columbia.

David Bratzer is a police officer in British Columbia. He is a certified police candidate assessor as well as an experienced field training officer. The opinions expressed in this essay are his own personal views and do not represent those of his employer.

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.”

Bad idea: Felicita’s Pub to be renamed at UVic

Apparently Felicitas’s Pub is going to be renamed by the University of Victoria Students’ Society. They are holding a contest with a $500 prize. The final vote is tomorrow night (November 29) at the pub.

This contest is a mistake. As a general rule, monuments, landmarks and buildings should not be renamed, absent a compelling reason. (No, corporate rebranding is not a compelling reason.)

Page 25 of the Autumn 2012 issue of Torch Magazine lists fifty unique things about UVic. Here is number 24:

“Felicita’s Campus Pub in the Student Union Building is named after beloved janitor Felicita Gomez who used to work in the SUB.”

This renaming contest is disrespectful to Mrs. Gomez. It is disrespectful to thousands of alumni, many of whom remember great times at Felicita’s. And it is disrespectful to working-class people, who almost never get anything named after them. Ditto for women, of course. Most buildings are named after men.

I hope the UVSS leadership reconsiders. I hope they think about history. Visit the Save Felicita’s Facebook page if you agree. If you are a student, you can also vote on Thursday evening at the pub.

Should BC municipalities and school boards switch to Linux?

Many municipalities, police departments and school boards in British Columbia struggle with their budgets each year. Perhaps they should consider following the lead of Munich, Germany:

Over €10 million (approximately £8 million or $12.8 million) has been saved by the city of Munich, thanks to its development and use of the city’s own Linux platform. The calculation of savings follows a question by the city council’s independent Free Voters (Freie Wähler) group, which led to Munich’s municipal LiMux project presenting a comparative budget calculation at the meeting of the city council’s IT committee on Wednesday. The calculation compares the current overall cost of the LiMux migration with that of two technologically equivalent Windows scenarios: Windows with Microsoft Office and Windows with OpenOffice. Reportedly, savings amount to over €10 million.

Linux is open source, secure, flexible and free. Yet the only local government on southern Vancouver Island using Linux – that I know of – is School District 63.