Board member’s boss hired for survey

Tuesday, September 15th, 2015 @ 11:16AM

SOURCE: ST. CATHERINES STANDARD

The Niagara Regional Police Services Board has hired the employer of one of its members to conduct a public opinion survey.

Carmen D’Angelo, the head of DPM Consulting, addressed the board’s business plan steering committee on the survey Thursday afternoon.

D’Angelo is also chief administrative officer of the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority, which employs Police Services Board member David Barrick as director of operations.

“The answer I got when I raised the concern was that the member (Barrick) wasn’t voting (on the contract),” said board member Vaughn Stewart.

“We had a small sub-committee that included the chair Bob Gale and the vice-chair, Andy Petrowski. We were tasked with finding someone to do an external survey and (D’Angelo) approached the chair, Bob Gale, with an unsolicited proposal.”

The untendered survey is meant to solicit community input on the service for a provincially mandated business plan. It comes with a $25,000 price tag.

“I didn’t deal with David Barrick,” D’Angelo said. “I presented the proposal to members Petrowski, Gale and Stewart.

“I came in with my proposal to the chair. I knew they were on a tight timeline. They chose my firm. I’m happy they chose my firm. Maybe the next time they will tender it.”

In an earlier interview, Barrick said he didn’t want to speak on behalf of the chair or vice-chair on the issue.

Gale said he wouldn’t speak to Postmedia, which owns the Standard.

“I apologize, but because of the negative articles that have been written, you won’t be getting any comments from me,” he said.

In a previous interview, Gale said the board wanted to use the survey to ask “hard questions” that will make the NRP better.

However, since its introduction in August, the survey’s credibility has been attacked.

The Niagara Region Police Association, which represents the NRP’s rank-and-file officers, raised questions about personal political agendas influencing its content.

D’Angelo defended the survey’s methodology. He said he formed the questions himself using board agendas and policing issues in the media.

He then took the survey questions to the sub-committee for vetting.

D’Angelo said he was pleased with the results, and only regrets the wording of one question in the survey.

“No survey is perfect,” he said. “Someone may criticize the survey. Someone may think it is good. I am always learning.”

D’Angelo reassured board members the IP addresses of respondents were actively checked and filtered to prevent people from taking the survey more than once and skewing the data.

The survey is to run until Sept. 28 and has received more than 2,200 responses, D’Angelo said.

“You have a gentleman come in, and you ask him questions about the quality of his work,” said Cliff Priest, president of the Niagara Region Police Association, who has criticized the survey in the past.

“What do you expect the answers are going to be? It is a part-time job for him. He announced quite openly that he was the CAO of the NPCA. Mr. Barrick works for him. It looks to me like a conflict, when your boss comes in out of the blue and bids on a contract.

“He said he called Bob Gale and told him his company does surveys. Why would he do that, unless you have been given a heads up by someone with knowledge?”

D’Angelo said he was taking a vacation day from his job at the NPCA to address the meeting, and added he understands Priest’s criticism and concerns.

“It is the nature of the beast,” D’Angelo said. “Cliff has a job to do. His job is to protect his members. I get that.

“The chair said he didn’t want vanilla questions and vanilla answers. At the end of the day I am cautiously optimistic the police association and its members will be happy when they see the results.

“Overall, people have a high respect for the rank and file.”

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