Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum maintains the new police force will not use lie detectors when hiring veteran cops because the tests are not required in British Columbia and are banned in Ontario.
That is from his Surrey Police Board letter ordered by the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner to a citizen.
Paul Daynes, who is the campaign director of Keep the RCMP in Surrey, complained May 20 that only subjecting rookies to polygraph tests will mean the new police force’s standards are automatically lower than the RCMP, which conducts a standard pre-employment polygraph.
Daynes said he will formally request the OPCC to conduct its own review of the major gap.
“I regard the responses from Mayor McCallum as barely credible,” Daynes said. “I remain convinced that the lack of appropriate security and polygraph screening, as well as the lack of transparency, continues to pose a very serious risk to citizens in both Surrey and throughout B.C.”
McCallum’s letter said the SPS conducts comprehensive interviews, background checks, and reference checks.
“We already know the experienced applicants involved are suitable to perform police work since they have been doing so in good standing for other police services, and the benefit of such a test to determine the same thing is not warranted in the circumstances,” said McCallum’s letter. “Having said that, the option of conducting such a test on a case-by-case basis will remain open to us where we deem appropriate in the circumstances.”
McCallum justified the board decision by writing that Ontario police forces are not allowed to use lie detectors in hiring and he compared the force-in-development to other agencies that do not subject applicants and current employees to lie detectors, including the Independent Investigations Office, B.C. Prosecution Service, Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner, and OPCC.
None of those, however, carry guns and handcuffs. Those agencies also do not have the power of arrest.
SPS recently published a tender call for a contractor to provide 60 to 100 polygraph tests per year.
Meanwhile, Daynes also complained that the Surrey Police Service was creating confusion because it was not clearly stating in its public communications that the only police force of record, until further notice, is the Surrey RCMP.
Daynes complained that SPS was causing confusion for seniors and vulnerable groups who need police services, by not making the distinction.
SPS said it has taken steps, such as adding a red bar to its website that states it is not yet in operation and those needing police services should call 9-1-1 or the 604-599-0502 non-emergency line.
“The Facebook page for the Surrey Police Service does not include such a caution and does not sufficiently notify Facebook users of the current non-operational status of the SPS,” McCallum wrote. “As a result of this service or policy complaint, the SPS will take this opportunity to revise the SPS Facebook page, to include a caution similar to that already on the Internet webpage and the Twitter account.”
The letter shifted the blame for any confusion to public debate on social media, unnamed advocacy groups, both for and against the transition, and two parody Twitter accounts.
“Some of those postings promote their own views of what has occurred or not occurred and anticipated events in the future. In fact, there are ‘spoof’ Twitter feeds such as ‘Surrey Police Service … (not)’ (Twitter account @surreypolicenot ) and ‘The Surrey Office of Bylaws (The SOBs) … Not’ (Twitter account @surreybylawnot ) that can cause confusion in the community.”
McCallum’s letter was copied to the OPCC, Wayne Rideout, the director of police services at the Solicitor General ministry, and Surrey Police Chief Norm Lipinski.
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