Richmond and White Rock mayors say they’re well-served by the Mounties, after an all-party legislative committee recommended a provincial force replace BC’s 130 RCMP detachments

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A recommendation to replace the Mounties with a provincial police force was news to at least one municipality with an RCMP detachment, and is unwanted by its mayor and the mayor of one of BC’s largest cities also policed ​​by the RCMP.

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A BC all-party legislative committee included that proposal and 10 others in its report, Transforming Policing and Community Safety in BC, after looking into systemic racism in policing. The proposals are designed to update the Police Act and try to restore trust in BC police, especially among marginalized and racialized communities that have raised concerns about police brutality, racial profiling and over-policing.

The committee recommended small police departments amalgamate by region, which could mean a regional force for Metro Vancouver and Metro Victoria, now policed ​​by municipal departments and RCMP detachments. A provincial force would allow cities and towns to choose the provincial service, establish its own force or join with another.

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“I don’t know what is the benefit of removing the RCMP, who are able to do a really good job in the province,” said Mayor Malcolm Brodie of Richmond, which has more than 200,000 residents and is BC’s fourth largest city. “I don’t know what silver bullet will come about if you change the patches on the arms of the officers.”

Brodie said any time you have a large organization, such as the RCMP, some will be happy with the service and some will not. But he is opposed to the cost of the transition, which he said is unknown but he imagines it will be “tens of millions of dollars.”

“If the province imposes this on us, I assume they would pay for it,” he said. “We’re certainly not asking for it (the change).”

Brodie said he and the city are in regular communication with the RCMP and the force is accountable to them.

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Mayor of White Rock Darryl Walker (right) at the Meeting of the Mayors' Council on Regional Transportation at Translink headquarters in New Westminster, BC Friday, September 20, 2019.
Mayor of White Rock Darryl Walker (right) at the Meeting of the Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation at Translink headquarters in New Westminster, BC Friday, September 20, 2019. Photo by Jason Payne /PNG

“I had no idea this was being discussed,” said White Rock Mayor Darryl Walker. “Until I have more details about how this would be implemented, I would have a difficult time supporting it.”

He said he worried about the extra policing costs for his small community in replacing the RCMP with a provincial force since the federal government subsidizes the national force.

“How much more is this going to cost our community?” I have asked.

And “we’re very happy with our RCMP,” he said. “We would be very reluctant to change. I don’t have any problems with them.”

There are 12 municipal forces in BC and 130 RCMP detachments.

Former BC solicitor-general Kash Heed, who also served as West Vancouver’s police chief, supports a BCforce but said the transition would have to be led by the province, not cities, judging by the opposition and turmoil in the transition to the Surrey Police Service from the Mounties.

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The National Police Federation, the union for many RCMP members, said in an emailed statement that it’s reviewing the report and its recommendations.

We “look forward to participating in discussions about continuing to evolve policing to meet diverse community needs throughout BC,” said president Brian Sauve in an email. “Repeated waves of public opinion surveys have shown that a strong majority (75 per cent) of British Columbians in RCMP-policed ​​communities feel they are well-served by our members, and most support complementary funding for both policing and social services.”

The report addressed the increasing amount of time officers spend responding to people in mental-health or addiction crises and recommended an integrated response by police, mental-health care workers, other health professionals and social workers.

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“The need for a health-focused approach for responding to mental health, addictions and other complex social issues, which includes integrating mental health within the 911 dispatch system, were among the reforms the (BC Urban Mayors Caucus) suggested to the committee,” Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran, co-chairman of the BCUMC, said in a statement. “Relying upon our policing services to fill an ever-widening gap where urgent social support and health-care services are required is not working or appropriate.”


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