03/07/2013 11:52 EST | Updated 05/07/2013 05:12 EDT

Did B.C. Transit Police Sweeten Their Stats?


What if a public company gave one set of sales numbers to its board of directors, another to its shareholders, and a third to its auditors? Would you feel comfortable entrusting the executive of this company with a $29.6 million investment?

Incredibly, that's precisely what has happened with the Transit Police.

In late February, the union and police brass did a local media tour, trying to drum up support for their beleaguered force. The next week, they released crime statistics showing what a bang-up job they're doing.

Or not.

Comparing their 2010 crime statistics in the new report, released on Monday, and last spring's Vancouver Police Department (VPD) operational review, has revealed a significant problem -- they don't match.

The VPD review reports Transit Police investigated 592 violent crimes in 2010. The new report says 615 -- an addition of four per cent. The VPD review claims Transit Police dealt with 1,065 property crimes in 2010. The new report says 1,229 -- an addition of 15 per cent. And the VPD review says Transit Police dealt with 296 police obstruction issues in 2010. The new report says 359 -- an addition of 21 per cent.

This statistical sweetening continues throughout several categories: 12 per cent more disturbances, 15 per cent more weapons possessions, 15 per cent more drug cases, 44 per cent more emergency health or fire assists and 29 per cent more disturbed persons.

Astonishingly, a third set of 2010 crime numbers -- with even fewer reported incidents than the VPD review stats -- was given to the Transit Police Board in March 2011.

This prompts some tough questions. Do criminals now have access to a time machine? Did more 2010 crimes get committed after the VPD finished their review in the spring of 2012? Which set of Transit Police statistics should be believed? Are any other numbers being sweetened?

A few statistics - the ones the force doesn't like to talk about -- stayed the same. The average transit police officer made $97,980 in 2011, and still only worked about ten serious and property crimes that entire year. Two-thirds of their files are still tickets for fare evasions -- which more economical Transit Security officers can now write -- and another 6.5 per cent are for assisting other police forces.

They are still having discipline problems: officers leaving explosives on planes and neglecting their duty dog, being charged after a bar fight and facing discipline for allegedly assaulting an elderly man in a Surrey hospital.

The combined violent and property crime rate on the transit system decreased by 6.8 per cent from 2008 to 2010. Sounds good, until you consider that the crime rate across the Lower Mainland as a whole decreased by 13.9 per cent.

The Transit Police budget for 2012 was $29.6 million, but TransLink is budgeting $31 million this year. In fact, over five years, the Transit Police is expected to grow 25 per cent.

No wonder the Transit Police were a 2013 finalist for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation's (CTF) signature Teddy Waste awards, which recognize the governments, public office holders, government employees, departments or agencies that most exemplify runaway government waste.

Thanks to the CTF's relentless work on exposing Transit Police waste and the media and public scrutiny that has sparked, the TransLink mayors have finally asked for a full review of the force. It's about time this ultra expensive, ineffective experiment came to an end.