This afternoon I went to my first Saanich Police Board meeting.
The police board is chaired by Mayor Frank Leonard. I didn’t really want to go to the meeting, but this particular police board is one of the least transparent in the province. It is one of only two municipal police boards in British Columbia that refuse to publish meeting minutes or agendas online. This is contrary to the recommendations (on page 119) of a substantial report from the Justice Institute on police governance. As a result if you want to find out anything about what the Saanich Police Board is doing, you have to go there in person.
The meeting itself highlighted a lot of amazing, innovative work done by Saanich police officers. This is why it’s surprising that the police board won’t put the minutes of these meetings online. It is a real disservice to those officers.
I also learned a few interesting tidbits. The Saanich Police Department is restarting its Automated Licence Plate Recognition (ALPR) program after a year-long privacy review. They are also cancelling police camp. Apparently it costs too much and not enough kids were actually from the District of Saanich. (According to the 2012 numbers: 24 youth attending police camp were from Saanich, the other 25 youth were from neighbouring municipalities.)
I’m glad I went to this meeting, particularly since I live in Saanich, but my original point remains: the Saanich Police Board should be posting its minutes and agendas online. This kind of basic transparency is a reasonable expectation of Saanich residents (who collectively pay more than $31 million in policing costs each year).