While I agree that the overtime cost of the transit police is concerning, it is clear from reading the VPD audit that this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to issues concerning TransLink’s police force.
For example, in addition to $1.5 million in overtime, the department pays for each officer to have 127.5 extra hours of time off per year. The VPD audit acknowledges that “TransLink and the Transit Police are essentially giving up 127.5 hours for free.” This amounts to an expenditure of $825,000 per year.
My biggest concern is what exactly we are paying for? It seems to me that we are paying a very expensive police department to do the work of bylaw officers and private security. Most of the work done by the transit police consists of writing fare evasion tickets. But fare gates are coming and new legislation will allow SkyTrain attendants and transit security guards to write the same tickets.
As for “preventing crime” and responding to calls, the public wants presence (such as more security guards conducting patrols), not necessarily police. And the jurisdictional police are still responsible for all of the serious incidents that happen on the transit system, so what is the point of paying for two police departments?
The author of the audit report acknowledges that fare gates will take away much of the work of the transit police. He then tries to suggest other things for them to do, such as stand outside the stations because there will be “hostile passengers” created by bottlenecks, and ride around the park-and-rides on bicycles all day.
For a cost much cheaper to the taxpayer, we could be paying security guards to do both of these duties, and they wouldn’t be costing the taxpayer millions in overtime and “free” days off.
T. Harvey, Surrey