January 18, 2013
Open Letter regarding January 17 edition of the Georgia Straight
News Story on North Shore Regional Policing.
As a police chief in 2013, I never know what my day will bring when I walk into my office each morning. I can honestly say my job is rarely simple and never boring. Thursday January 17, 2013 was no different.
When I opened my email, I was peppered with messages from a number of sources bringing the same issue to my attention. The Georgia Straight had published a piece on the issue of regional policing on the north shore. In the piece, my supposed position on the issue was articulated by a third party, a university professor whom I have never met.
Three things were immediately clear to me: the author of the piece, Carlito Pablo, had made no attempt to contact me for a quote; the third party he relied on to articulate my position got it wrong; and, given the importance of the issue, this was not an error that I could live with.
I had to at least to attempt to correct the inaccuracy and extract the words that had been "put into my mouth". My day was now going to be spent attempting to correct the error and control the damage that I did not cause, but was now going to be attributed to me.
The only contact information available for Mr. Pablo on the Georgia Straight website was his Twitter handle. So I started off by tweeting a request that he contact me. Then I tracked down a phone number for the Georgia Straight and left a voicemail message asking him to contact me. By the time I left my office at 8 PM last night, I hadn't received a call or a tweet.
In fact, it wasn't until 1130 AM on January 18th, some 30 hours after the article was published, that Mr. Pablo got in touch. By that time I had been fielding emails and phone calls, explaining the error and clarifying my position for almost 30 hours.
I asked Mr. Pablo why he had chosen to publish the piece without speaking to me and getting my position from the "horse's mouth". He agreed that he probably should have done that, and apologized for the oversight and the resulting error. During the remainder of the conversation, he asked me to clarify my position and offered to publish a clarification, but as they say "too little, too late". In today's world of the never-ending news cycle, there is no way that I can wait a week until the Georgia Straight's next edition; hence the need for me to publish this missive, essentially cleaning up a mess that I had no part in making.
So, here it is, for the record, once and for all. My position on regional policing in Metro Vancouver is as follows: From the perspective of operational policing and public safety, I do not believe that a regional police service is necessary. However, the decision on a regional policing model whether it be within Metro Vancouver or on the North Shore is entirely political. If our municipal, regional, and/or provincial governments decide that a regional policing is the direction they want to go, then I will gladly lead the way. I can and will work within any police service model as I have had the chance to prove many times over the course of my 33 year career serving the public in the profession of policing.
Peter A. Lepine