Delta formally refuses to join regional police force

DELTA — Mayor Lois Jackson said she has advised Attorney General Suzanne Anton that Delta will not be participating in any proposed changes to the Police Act that include forcing the municipality into a regional policing model.

Taking a few moments during Monday evening’s council meeting, Jackson said she and her staff met with Anton in Victoria recently to discuss the amendment tabled in the legislature on Oct. 23. The changes are based on the recommendations of the 2012 Missing Women Inquiry by Wally Oppal, which urged Metro Vancouver cities to join and help fund regional policing units.

"Delta does not support the proposed changes because they included possible mandatory participation of our police force in an integrated regional policing unit, such as the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team," said Jackson flatly.

The mayor added there are significant costs associated with Delta joining IHIT, estimated to be between $800,000 and $1 million annually.

She also expressed concerns regarding the province’s authority to expand and impose integrated policing teams such as IHIT onto Metro Vancouver municipalities and pass on the costs for these specialized policing services.

"From Delta’s perspective we do not support mandatory participation in IHIT, nor any other type of levy for that service," she said.

Jackson added that research has shown this type of policing model creates "winners and losers."

"Meaning some communities benefit to the detriment of others, with Delta likely being a community that loses in terms of the significant annual investment required."

Jackson laid out key concerns with the regional plan, including an increase in public safety costs, allocation of a lower number of sworn officers to the community, and a regionalized police model that would not reduce overall crime rates.

"Given the current success of Delta’s community-based policing, with our no-call-too-small model, consistently low and decreasing crime rates, and Delta’s high ranking as a safe community, we want to continue moving forward with our community-based policing model," she said.

Jackson and Delta Police Chief Jim Cessford first announced their opposition to regional policing in January, 2013, by holding a press conference to tout their "no-call-too-small" style of policing. At the time, Cessford attributed the capture of Laura Szendrei’s murderer to their attentive responsiveness within the community.

Notably, Surrey mayoral candidate Barinder Rasode proposed a similar model of policing during her run for office last month, consulting with Cessford for her crime strategy.

Jackson said she advised Anton that Delta is still committed to cooperating and collaborating with regional police agencies to solve crimes and provide assistance as needed.

She said Anton was receptive to the meeting and assured Jackson that the municipality would not be legislated into regional participation in IHIT.

There are six Lower Mainland municipal police forces that could be affected by changes to the Police Act, including Vancouver, West Vancouver, Port Moody, New Westminster, Delta and Abbotsford. All other cities have RCMP detachments, including Surrey and White Rock.

amacnair@thenownewspaper.com

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