A police team specializing in the investigation of outlaw motorcycle gangs is set to be dismantled because of budget cuts.
The team is part of two provincially-funded sections of the RCMP that are being hit by multi-million dollar budget cuts.
The Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit will see a cut of $2.8 million to its operating budget.
“There’s a deficit shortfall right now. The government is basically holding CSFEU to a deficit and saying make it up,” says Leo Knight, a security expert who first revealed the cutbacks.
“It’s not a vote getter. There’s nothing in it for government other than doing the right thing, and there’s no votes in doing the right thing.”
The cuts will impact the number of enforcement teams: they will be reduced from six to five (12 positions), as well as maintaining a vacancy pattern and reducing assistance to partner agencies. Operational support will also be reduced.
The cuts mean the elimination of Team Six, which specializes in investigating outlaw motorcycle gangs.
The Major Crimes section will also be faced with a budget cut of $1.4 million. This will impact the Special Projects, Unsolved Homicide and Missing Persons programs.
The cuts include the reduction of 13 full-time investigators within various projects.
Deputy Commissioner Craig Callens, Commanding Officer of RCMP in British Columbia, has issued the following statement regarding the alleged budget cuts:
I can confirm that after considerable dialogue with the Ministry of Justice and Police Services Division, they have confirmed a $4.2 million dollar reduction to our overall 2014/2015 Provincial Policing budget.
Prior to this budget reduction, the BC RCMP had initiated a number of service delivery reviews and measures to maximize the effectiveness of existing resources and realize efficiencies where possible.
For example, the BC RCMP have significantly reduced the size of our fleet, adjusted shift schedules to better meet demand, reduced travel costs, found innovative solutions for lower-cost training, centralized administrative functions in our new headquarters, and more. Simply put, there are no further savings to be found; and, any budget reductions mean that we have to reduce the size of the provincial police service. This reality was explained to the Ministry and to Police Services Division.
After significant consultation with my Senior Management Team and the CFSEU-BC Board of Governance, I notified the Province that the budget shortfall would be reflected in cuts to the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit BC and to the Provincial Major Crime program.
NDP Justice Critic Mike Farnworth has heavily criticized the move.
“We fight forest fires and pay what it costs to fight forest fires. Organized crime is a real problem in this province, we’ve seen the havoc it wrecks in communities across this province,” he said.
“To make these cuts that result in cutting down on…the ability to gather key intelligence against motorcycle gangs and other criminal gangs is just a wrong priority plain and simple. The only idea who think this is a good idea is organized gangs and this government.”