The London Police Services Board has issued a statement confirming it has requested that the force’s administration report back with a clear detailing of the process to approve members’ participation in a training competition in the United Arab Emirates.
Chief Thai Truong says he is “prepared to engage fully” in the board’s review, while also defending the trip.
“As Chief, I am committed to ensuring our members have access to world-class training opportunities and I supported the opportunity for our members to train, compete, and learn from over 70 different (Emergency Response Unit) teams from around the world in Dubai, who are considered among the best internationally,” he said in a statement.
Participating in the event was initially estimated at $115,000, he added, “which would have been prohibitive for us to participate.” However, discussions with Dubai police led to the cost being reduced to $15,700.
CBC London reported Tuesday that members of London’s ERU team were taking part in the training competition, which wrapped up Wednesday, and that the board, which includes Mayor Josh Morgan, appeared unaware of the trip.
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In an email to Global News, Morgan noted that he is comforted by the fact that “almost none of the cost was borne by the London Police Service” but that it is “ultimately beside the point.”
“The fact is, as you can see based on the budget I’ve tabled, and the discussion that’s followed, every dollar counts and every dollar matters. Londoners deserve transparency and accountability from all institutions funded by municipal tax dollars, and Police are no different. It’s absolutely paramount,” he wrote.
“That’s why I fully support action taken by the Police Services Board in directing administration to outline specific financial and procedural considerations governing not only the approval of this specific training competition, but also the approval process governing similar training opportunities for our service.”
However, Laura Huey, sociology professor at Western University, suggests that the training was an opportunity for police and the cost was minimal.
“People look at something like this and they think, ‘Oh, we’re sending a bunch of them on a holiday. We’re paying $16,000. I can’t go on holiday this year.’ And I understand that, but the reality is this is not a holiday. This is a training exercise,” she said.
“I don’t think most people have any clue what police training actually costs, especially for courses where you send people in highly-skilled units to places like the United States for training. Let’s put it this way, when I say $16,000, I’m like, ‘Wow, that’s actually really good.’”
The event in Dubai involved teams from more than 70 countries, including Chile, Argentina, Russia, Mexico, Brazil, China, Iraq, Kuwait, the United States, South Africa, Thailand and more. London’s was the only Canadian team taking part.
The UAE SWAT Challenge is hosted by Dubai police and involves “five challenging events” and also offers the opportunity to “connect with fellow experts, share strategies, and experience the latest in tactical equipment and technology,” its website says.
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