Garr reveals VPD PR department costs taxpayers $1.2 million

Post by Daniel Fontaine in

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Constable Tim Fanning was once the public face of the Vancouver Police Department's $1.2 million dollar public relations branch

Vancouver civic affairs columnist Allen Garr has an excellent column in today's Vancouver Courier in which he reveals the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) are now spending upwards of $1.2 million per year on their public relations (oops...should read public affairs) department. This includes the hiring of six sworn officers to work in the branch.

As many of our readers know, CityCaucus.com has been writing about how Vancouver City Hall staff have become demoralized over what they see as out-of-control spending by the top brass at the Vancouver Police Department. While most departments are facing budget cutbacks, hiring freezes and possible layoffs, the VPD continue their uncontrollable spending binge.

Anyone who regularly reads Garr knows that he has a long history of shedding light on the VPD's operations and today's column is truly a humdinger. Here is an excerpt of what Garr had to say:

Unlike other city departments, the VPD's public affairs department is the only one that schedules a press conference every day. Indeed, the VPD boasts that it was "one of the first police departments in North America to hold daily press conferences for our local media."

The VPD is so reliable in this matter, reporting on crime, that their news conferences are a regular part of the diet of local news outlets. This symbiotic relationship allows the cops to keep crime and the need for police on the public mind.

Garr goes on to compare the City of Vancouver communications department with that of the police department:

What we do know is that the police budget for public affairs is exactly the same as city hall's, which has about triple the number of employees, a whole range of departments and almost five times the VPD's operating budget.

We also know that there are 18 full-time and 10 part-time folks working in Patterson's department. Six of those are sworn officers.

One other thing: the VPD is the only city department that spends a chunk of money on self-promotion. The publication "Beyond the Call" highlights the good works of cops and citizens working for the VPD.

Vancouver Council and taxpayers should be asking for the VPD to justify why they need six sworn officers to conduct news conferences and provide media briefings. They should also ask whether the $1.2 million spent on public relations could be better utilized elsewhere.

Surely it would be more effective to get these six police officers on the street fighting crime, rather than having them sitting behind a computer drafting news releases. What do you think?

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