The province has ordered a review that will examine how policing is organized but at least one expert doubts it will be independent enough.

The province has ordered a review that will examine how policing is organized but at least one expert doubts it will be independent enough.

Policing review spurs fresh talk of Metro Vancouver regional force

Some Metro cities still considering split from RCMP over rising costs

A new review of policing in B.C. ordered by the province may prod Metro Vancouver’s patchwork of police forces to work together in new ways but observers don’t expect a switch to a full regional police force.

A regional force was one of the top recommendations handed down nearly a year ago by the Missing Women Inquiry, which probed how serial killer Robert Pickton eluded capture for so long.

Justice Minister Suzanne Anton said the multi-phase review by government will look at new service delivery models.

“Any change, whether it is regional delivery of specialized policing functions or further integration, has to meet the needs of both communities and taxpayers, and our goal is to retain and support community-based policing,” Anton said in a statement.

She said the reivew will also draw up funding options to finance police costs after work to better define the responsibilities of various levels of government.

Several mayors, including Delta’s Lois Jackson, remain firmly against regional policing on the grounds they may lose community policing control and the ability to deliver no-call-too-small service to their residents.

The two-year review is to be done by the ministry in close consultation with local cities and with some assistance from the B.C. Association of Chiefs of Police.

SFU criminologist Rob Gordon said it doesn’t look independent enough to come up with the right solution, even if it’s one that upsets some cities and police forces.

“It’s going to be a self-serving apology for the status quo,” Gordon predicted. “Police chiefs and mayors all have a great deal at stake. It could very well be a waste of time and money.”

Gordon said a separate study is expected to report back soon on the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT), which is one of the regional integrated police teams that doesn’t have full municipal cooperation.

Vancouver, Delta and West Vancouver all run their own homicide squads rather than participate in IHIT, out of concerns over both costs and control.

Gordon said he fears the IHIT report will result in more “bandaiding” of the existing structure, instead of taking a needed step back to look at how to redesign the entire “totally inefficient” policing system in Metro Vancouver as well as Greater Victoria.

According to a provincial report, there has been improved cooperation between police forces over the years through greater use of integrated police teams and several police-related reforms are being taken in response to Justice Wally Oppal’s inquiry.

Those include audits to ensure bias-free policing, the development of a Real Time Intelligence Centre that can better analyze crime data around the clock, and a separate review of how vulnerable witnesses are handled.

Most of Oppal’s 65 recommendations haven’t led to provincial action, or are counted as still in progress.

 

RCMP costs a major concern for cities

The rising costs of RCMP service remain a big issue for Metro cities.

Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie said his city is still considering pulling out of the RCMP and launching its own municipal force. Richmond would contract with a neighouring city for specialized services, such as murder investigations.

“Our assumption has been that there was so much opposition to a regional model that it probably wasn’t going to happen,” he said. “Whether that now changes, we have to wait and see.”

Burnaby, Port Coquitlam and North Vancouver have also studied potential alternatives to the RCMP over the past 18 months, since a controversial new 20-year RCMP contract kicked in with higher officer costs.

Brodie said one “huge issue” is the costs cities are being expected to pay to cover the newly opened $1-billion RCMP ‘E’ Division headquarters at Green Timbers in Surrey.

RCMP-policed cities have been told to budget $1,200 for each officer in their detachment, he said, and $20,000 for every local officer who serves on an integrated team.

Brodie said it adds up to a sudden jump of several hundred thousand dollars in annual RCMP costs for larger cities like Richmond, Burnaby and Surrey.

“When you’ve got 20 members on an integrated team, that’s a lot of money.”

The mayors also want to know why they have to pay anything for the new base in Surrey when Ottawa apparently isn’t yet moving to sell off the old ‘E’ Division headquarters on Heather Street in Vancouver.

“The federal government decides that they need a huge massive new building in Surrey, which we didn’t ask for,” Brodie said. “We take the position we’re not paying for the capital costs.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Swoop Airlines. (Contributed)
COVID-19 case reported on Abbotsford-bound flight last week

Affected flight landed in Abbotsford on Nov. 16

Last year’s Realtors Care Blanket Drive collected 192 bags of warm clothing and blankets for the Abbotsford-Mission area. The 2020 version is collecting only cash donations. (File photo)
Annual Realtors Care Blanket Drive adapts to pandemic

Campaign across the Fraser Valley asks only for cash donations in 2020

web
Two Mission dental offices among only 5 in B.C. to purchase expensive new air-filtration invention

‘My patients can’t wear masks … There’s no other way around it,’ Dr. Stephen Chow said

Elementary teacher Jo-Ann Lindahl poses with her students following an outdoor ‘closing circle’ in which they discussed what they had learned that day. (Image submitted)
Mission elementary teacher to receive national Indigenous educator award

Jo-Ann Lindahl named a 2020 Guiding the Journey: Educator Award recipient

An employee at a Chilliwack McDonald’s location tested positive for COVID on Nov. 21 (File photo by The Associated Press)
Employee tests positive for COVID-19 at McDonald’s restaurant in Chilliwack

One case was detected at the Vedder Road location, which briefly closed its doors

People wearing face masks to help curb the spread of COVID-19 cross a street in downtown Vancouver, on Sunday, November 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. reports 17 COVID deaths, 1,933 new cases as hospitalizations surge over the weekend

There are 277 people in hospital, of whom 59 are in ICU or critical care

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers at the project site in Kitimat. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared last Thursday (Nov. 19). (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
Forty-one positive COVID-19 cases associated with the LNG Canada site outbreak in Kitimat

Thirty-four of the 41 cases remain active, according to Northern Health

Workers arrive at the Lynn Valley Care Centre seniors home, in North Vancouver, B.C., on Saturday, March 14, 2020. It was the site of Canada’s first COVID-19 outbreak in a long-term care facility. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Rapid tests ‘not a panacea’ for care homes, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

B.C. lacks capacity for daily tests of thousands of workers

(Delta Police Department photo)
Cannabis edibles found in Halloween bag lead B.C. police to illegal lab

Delta police arrested a man and a woman while executing a warrant at a residential property Nov. 20

A woman being arrested at a Kelowna Value Village after refusing to wear a mask on Nov. 22.(@Jules50278750/Twitter)
VIDEO: Woman arrested for refusing to wear mask at Kelowna Value Village

RCMP claims the woman was uncooperative with officers, striking them a number of times and screaming

B.C. Liberal MLA Shirley Bond questions NDP government ministers in the B.C. legislature, Feb. 19, 2020. (Hansard TV)
Cabinet veteran Shirley Bond chosen interim leader of B.C. Liberals

28-member opposition prepares for December legislature session

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, November 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-19: What do rising positivity rates mean for B.C.? It’s not entirely clear

Coronavirus cases are on the rise but the province has not unveiled clear thresholds for further measures

A rider carves a path on Yanks Peak Saturday, Nov. 21. Two men from Prince George went missing on the mountain the next day. One of them, Colin Jalbert, made it back after digging out his sled from four feet under the snow. The other, Mike Harbak, is still missing. Local search and rescue teams went out looking Monday, Nov. 23. (Sam Fait Photo)
‘I could still be the one out there’: Snowmobiler rescued, 1 missing on northern B.C. mountain

As Quesnel search and rescue teams search for the remaining rider, Colin Jalbert is resting at home

More than 70 anglers participated in the bar-fishing demonstration fishery on Sept. 9, 2020 on the Fraser River near Chilliwack. DFO officers ticketed six people and seized four rods. A court date is set for Dec. 1, 2020. (Jennifer Feinberg/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Anglers ticketed in Fraser River demonstration fishery heading to court

Sportfishing groups started a GoFundMe with almost $20K so far for legal defence of six anglers

Most Read