Langley’s top cop has been reassigned amid alleged concerns about the City mayor’s Winter Wonderland Gala and RCMP overtime.
The gala was organized by Mayor Val van den Broek, in partnership with the local RCMP, and resulted in a $56,000 donation to the Langley Memorial Hospital Foundation.
Soon after the Jan. 25 gala, van den Broek defended her fundraising event after City Councillor Teri James asked for an accounting of the event and RCMP costs. The mayor also received criticism for using the City logo without authorization under the municipality’s branding policy.
Now the head of the Langley RCMP detachment, who also attended the gala, has been reassigned “temporarily”, the RCMP’s E-Division headquarters confirms. Supt. Murray Power is still listed on the Langley RCMP website as officer in charge.
The RCMP would not comment on Power’s reassignment specifically, citing privacy issues, but spokesperson Staff Sgt. Janelle Shoilet could speak to policy.
“While we respect your request is very specific, we are not is a position to provide anything as we have to respect the Privacy Act and fairness in process,” said the senior media relations officer for E Division – which oversees the region, including the Langley detachment. “This applies to all employees in the RCMP.”
It’s not against policy for members to attend community events such as the mayor’s gala if it’s part of their work, such as patrolling a fair or being part of a protection detail for a dignitary.
“If you’re on duty, there may be community events that are attended on duty,” Shoihet added.
She also noted that officers can sign up for overtime opportunities, but can’t be compelled to do overtime.
“Overtime can never be mandated,” she said.
Back in February, the Langley Advance Times submitted an Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) request to the RCMP regarding the costs associated with the mayor’s gala, after hearing rumours that local officers were offered overtime hours if they attended the fundraising event.
The newspaper did not receive the requested information, being told the officer responsible for ATIP was off at the time. On Aug. 31, the officer responded that she is not responsible for ATIP work, and E Division says freedom of information requests must now go through a federal office.
Van den Broek told the Langley Advance Times Friday that she would respond via statement, which she sent Friday, but would not take media questions.
“I will not comment on allegations relating to the participation of RCMP members,” she said. “Those are the subject of a separate, independent investigation, and it would be wrong for me to comment while that investigation is ongoing.”
She, herself, is a federal employee on unpaid leave while being mayor. She worked in the community policing office in Langley City prior to being elected mayor.
She said she issued the statement to clarify some points, including a question about the gala being a private function.
“The gala has also been described as a private event,” van den Broek said.
“That is not an accurate characterization. The event was open to the public,” she said. “The gala was advertised to the public, and any member of the public was free to purchase a ticket and attend. Tickets were sold through Eventbrite, an established distributor for concerts and other public events. More importantly, the purpose of the event was entirely charitable. The gala was not organized for anyone’s private gain – not mine or anyone else’s.”
At a council meeting after the gala, when Coun. James raised concerns, the mayor voted in favour of James’ motion to have staff report on costs and the logo use issue.
At a luncheon where the funds were presented to the Langley Memorial Hospital Foundation, the mayor commented on the controversies generated. Van den Broek once again insisted no staff resources were used to help stage the event.
“Every aspect of this gala was done by donations, sponsorship, and volunteers with no cost to the City and all proceeds going to our hospital,” van den Broek said at the luncheon.
Her Friday statement said that when the concerns about the use of the logo were brought up, the organizers stopped using it.
“Apart from the unfortunate public controversy which the gala has generated, it was rewarding for me to help raise money for such a deserving cause,” the mayor said. “I would like to continue my efforts for these types of causes, and I am hopeful that other members of council will be able to support similar events in the coming years.”
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