City’s top cops don’t meet criteria to take cars home

The B.C. RCMP is rejecting the city’s assertion that top ranking officers in Richmond should be permitted to take police vehicles home.

Insp. Ed Boettcher, officer in charge of communication services for the force in B.C. said in an e-mail to The Richmond Review the RCMP’s policy on approval of the overnight custody of police vehicles is clear.

“The ability to take a police car home is approved against a set of criteria that include operational necessity. In circumstances where it cannot be demonstrated that the criteria are being met, approval is not granted.”

On Wednesday, The Review reported on the policy change that prevents Richmond RCMP’s senior officers from taking police cars home.

Senior staff at city hall say the Richmond RCMP’s Senior Leadership Team—Supt. Rendall Nesset and three inspectors—is on call 24/7 “to respond to emerging situations.” But under the new policy, the officers are forced to retrieve a cop car at the No. 5 Road detachment before responding to the scene of an after-hours incident.

City council endorsed to a plan Monday to circumvent the policy by agreeing to a 2014 capital budget that includes $105,000 in spending for four vehicles for the Senior Leadership Team.

The city will retain ownership of the police-outfitted vehicles, meaning the officers will be free to take them home. The cost will be recouped by reducing the RCMP’s budget by the amount spent on the cars.

Existing RCMP vehicles previously used by the team will be reallocated to the Serious Crime Unit, according to a city staff report.

Hearing of the policy also prompted council to fire a letter off to the B.C. RCMP, also known as “E” Division, to relay a message that the policy is unacceptable.

At Richmond Fire-Rescue, by contrast, the city provides the fire chief and three deputy chiefs with vehicles, which they take home. They do so for the same reasons the city wants its top cops to take police vehicles home, according to city spokesperson Ted Townsend.

“They are on call 24-7 and regularly respond direct to scene and require vehicles that are designated and equipped for emergency response, with sirens, enhanced safety features, etc.,” he noted.

The city also extends the privilege of taking vehicles home to commuting employees for carpooling purposes. Eligible staff pay a nominal amount for the perk, which allows staffers to use city vehicles to drive to and from city hall or the works yard.

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