VicPD transparency is a one-way street

Last week, VicPD Cst. David Bratzer found himself in the limelight after he was denied access to the recent proposal by the RCMP...

Last week, VicPD Cst. David Bratzer found himself in the limelight after he was denied access to the recent proposal by the RCMP to take over Esquimalt’s policing services. That proposal was accepted by Esquimalt council, only to be overruled by the minister of justice.

The constable justified his inquiry to local media, saying, “I feel this is an appropriate time to ask ourselves, ‘Was this a transparent process?’ And the answer, in my view, is ‘no.’” While Bratzer insists that he was acting as a private citizen, one can’t help but think his employer — currently knee-deep in contract negotiations — would benefit from access to the competition’s apparently superior offer. (On Monday night, however, Esquimalt council bowed to pressure and voted in favour of releasing the proposals within 30 days.)

Bratzer’s approach seems to be characteristic of the entire Victoria Police Department, which found itself in hot water with the B.C. Privacy Commissioner last week over its newfound habit of collecting thousands of license plate numbers from innocent civilians for no particular reason.

The department is under investigation by the commissioner for its failure to address whether or not the program — which has vehicle-mounted cameras recording license plate numbers at random — complies with privacy law.

Mirroring his department’s apparent commitment to transparency, Chief Jamie Graham brushed off concerns over the new program, assuring us that “If you haven’t done anything wrong and there’s no issues, what’s to be worried about?”

This isn’t the first time VicPD has defended collecting reams of personal data. The department stood by the controversial BarWatch program while it was being investigated by the privacy commissioner for retaining personal data scanned from bar patrons’ I.D.

Unfortunately, this desire for openness appears to be limited to everyone but VicPD itself. The department refused to provide local media with the same information requested by Cst. Bratzer, and a recent report on the issues behind Esquimalt’s decision to jump ship repeatedly cited flow of information as a primary concern.

VicPD brass was also strangely silent on the topic of its current conflict with the privacy commissioner, despite Chief Graham’s previously vociferous support for its license recognition program.

It would appear that, at least when it comes to the Victoria police force and its members, transparency is a one-way street. M

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

BEHIND BARS: Relaxed and refreshed at The Palms

Sneak peek at Victoria’s freshest new bar

Ocie Elliott: Facing the Music

Victoria duo describes effects of COVID crisis

YOUR AUGUST HOROSCOPE: It’s Leo Season!

Georgia Nicols giving us insight on what lies ahead this summer

30 years later, Sue Medley’s hit ‘Dangerous Times’ more relevant than ever

Vancouver Island singer/songwriter reflects on her ’90s national hit

Psychological thriller filmed on northern Vancouver Island debuts on AppleTV

‘Woodland’ is set in Haida Gwaii, but was filmed around Port McNeill

Island pub wants people to ‘drop five’ to keep music alive

Royston’s Charlie Aiken thinks his plan can help artists and venues alike

First Arts Alive sculptures of 2020 now installed

Oak Bay’s annual public art exhibition starts anew

Nanaimo fantasy writer co-authoring Old Norse phrase book

Joshua Gillingham partnering with author and professor on ‘Old Norse for Modern Times’

Cowichan’s 39 Days of July deemed a success, despite COVID-19

Musical productions live streamed from the Duncan Showroom this year

Gabriola’s Isle of the Arts Festival goes ‘mini’ on 10th anniversary

Gabriola Arts Council presents scaled-down, workshop-only IOTA Mini festival

Sooke Fine Arts Show reaches new audiences with virtual showcase

Voting for People’s Choice Award open until Aug. 3

Mural artists announced for Nanaimo’s inaugural Hub City Walls festival

Local artists Kara Dee Harrison, Russell Morland and Austin Weflen to paint downtown walls

Most Read