Merits of creating regional police force debated by leaders

rafe arnott/metro vancouver


B.C. Solicitor General, John Les, and Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts listen as Ottawa police chief Vern White discusses the pros and cons of a regionalized police force to more than 100 delegates at the 2008 Ting Forum on Justice Policy at the Wosk Centre for Dialogue in Vancouver yesterday.

Metro Vancouver needs to create a regional police force because the current system is too fragmented to effectively deal with criminals who cross jurisdictions, Police Chief Jim Chu said yesterday.

"I know a lot of smaller jurisdictions treasure their ‘No call too small’ service," he said. "But we’re not anywhere as agile as we need to be."

He added that an amalgamated force would improve the sharing of information and resources, which would help police to better tackle crime.

Chu was one of more than 20 police chiefs, municipal leaders and academics gathered in Vancouver yesterday to debate the merits of creating a regional police force.

The idea has become a hot topic in light of a wave of gang violence that’s left at least 12 people dead in the past six months.

Police have made no arrests, raising questions over the current system’s ability to handle the violence.

West Vancouver Police Chief Const. Kash Heed, who’s long been a vocal advocate of a regional system, echoed Chu’s sentiment.

"Crime knows no borders, and neither should the delivery of police enforcement," he said.

But Jim Cessford, Delta police ch-ief, said bigger isn’t necessarily better.

"Diversity is our strength," he said, adding that a provincial specialized policing organization would be a better model, providing resources to all municipalities while allowing them to still have community departments.

Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts and Garry Bass, Commanding Officer of the RCMP’s E Division, warned that not all aspects of the current system should be dismissed.

"We are doing some things right in terms of policing," said Bass. "We need to figure out what that is and enhance it rather than tearing it down."

daylong forum

  • The daylong forum was hosted by Simon Fraser University’s school of criminology and the Solicitor General.

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