Vancouver Police Chief Jamie Graham rejects idea for Project Civil City commissioner

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      Vancouver police chief Jamie Graham dislikes the idea of “bureaucrats” enforcing law and order in Vancouver. “I can do this job,” Graham said.

      Graham was referring to a proposal by Mayor Sam Sullivan to hire a commissioner as part of his “Project Civil City” aimed at addressing the supposed problem of public disorder.

      “There are several things in there that we’ve been doing for some time already. I mean, a lot of this is old news,” the veteran former Mountie told the Georgia Straight before the December 13 Vancouver police board meeting.

      Graham, who has been the city’s top cop since 2002, then said: “I’m a little concerned about this Civil City commissioner that was briefed. I’m not in favour of this kind of a position.”

      There is no need for “any additional individual” to enforce order, Graham added, because he and city manager Judy Rogers are already on top of the matter.

      “But if they’re going to implement, bring in a Civil City person, then that person should work under the direct control of the city manager because we have a process already in place,” he said. “Bureaucrats or politically appointed people do not direct the police on what to do.”

      Sullivan, with help from former Non-Partisan Association president Dale McClanaghan, unveiled Project Civil City on November 27. One of 10 proposed measures in the plan reads: “Provide $300,000 from the 2006 Contingency Reserve to immediately establish a new Project Civil City Implementation Office. This will include hiring a Project Civil City Commissioner.”

      During the same December 13 meeting, the police board received a report from Graham indicating that crimes and the incidence of street disorder have declined.

      The Straight asked Sullivan, the police board chair, after the meeting how Graham’s report will impact his initiative. “I’m very pleased about the good work of our police department in reducing crime and public disorder,” Sullivan said, adding: “My feeling and the feeling of many citizens is it still remains too high and that we could do much more to decrease crime and public disorder.”

      Graham’s criticism of the concept of a Civil City commissioner is the latest in a series of differences between him and the mayor. During the 2005 election campaign, Graham asked the RCMP to conduct a criminal investigation of Sullivan for giving money to an addict, who subsequently consumed drugs in his van. Sullivan was never charged.

      Earlier this year, Sullivan asked the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner for advice after the chief left a bullet-ridden target on the desk of Rogers, the city manager. Police Complaint Commissioner Dirk Ryneveld chose not to investigate and left the matter with the police board, which is Graham’s employer.

      Graham’s five-year contract with the city expires on August 22, 2007, according to police board executive director Shona McGlashan.