Delta Police Chief Jim Cessford says he is open to discussing the possibility of forming a regional police service, but at this point the idea is little more than conversation.
Cessford was responding to comments made on a Vancouver radio station this week by Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie, who said he was considering ditching the RCMP and moving to another policing option. Options floated included teaming up with another city or forming a regional service. Brodie said Delta Police are another choice his community might have.
“I haven’t spoken to Mayor Brodie myself and I would expect that if he was interested in moving in that direction, that he would contact (Delta) Mayor (Lois) Jackson,” said Cessford. “If it’s something that would work for Richmond and it would work for Delta, obviously we would consider it, but we’re not looking to take over business or anybody’s job from them. The RCMP do a fine job,” he added.
Delta Police spokesman Const. Ciaran Feenan said the department hasn’t seriously discussed the possibility of regionalization.
“At this point, again, it’s just conversation,” Feenan said. “Certainly where we’re at right now, our focus is on Delta.”
Delta Mayor Lois Jackson, who chairs the Delta Police Board, said there has been no discussion at the board level or at the Delta council level.
“We have been speaking most informally with the mayor of Richmond and he has certainly been asking what the pros and cons are of having our own municipal police force and I have certainly responded. And that’s about as far as we have ventured,” said Jackson.
“Certainly I am open to any discussion with Richmond. We are always available to assist with any information or statistics. We certainly discuss the positive aspects of our Delta municipal police and the system that we use in Delta,” she added.
Richmond is one of six Metro Vancouver cities that have not yet signed a new 20-year RCMP contract over concerns about costs.
Burnaby, North Vancouver City, North Vancouver District, Port Coquitlam and Coquitlam also haven’t ratified the new deal negotiated by the provincial and federal governments.
They were recently given a one-month extension to June 30 to make a decision.
It’s the second extension given and the province has warned there won’t be any more.
Any city that doesn’t sign will get formal notice from Victoria that they must either sign or submit a written policing plan to the ministry if they don’t plan to sign.
Cities have also been warned that if they don’t sign they risk losing their federal subsidy, worth 10 per cent of their policing bills.
After the first extension, granted in April, Brodie and other Metro Vancouver mayors said their concerns are about more than the pay hikes, which give the RCMP an extra 5.25 per cent over three years.
One issue involves an interpretation document that is to accompany the actual contract and would guide how it is interpreted.
It’s not yet finished, Brodie told Black Press after a Lower Mainland mayors meeting in April, and is the subject of continuing talks between Victoria and Ottawa.
“If it’s a 20-year contract you must know what you’re getting into,” Brodie said. “Unless you have the interpretation guide, I’m not sure how you can do that.”
He said he’s also concerned cities may have little real input into a promised review of the contract every five years.
—With files from Black Press