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Provincial police force opposed by Mayor of British Columbia’s fourth largest city

A proposal to replace the Mounties with a provincial police force was unwelcomed by the mayors of at least one municipality with an RCMP detachment, as well as the mayor of one of B.C.’s largest cities.

After looking in to systemic racism in policing, a B.C. all-party legislative committee included that proposal and ten others in its report, Transforming Policing and Community Safety in B.C. The proposals aim to modernize the Police Act and restore trust in B.C. police, particularly among marginalized and racialized communities that have expressed concerns about police brutality, racial profiling, and over-policing.

Small police agencies could be merged by region, according to the committee, which may mean a regional force for Metro Vancouver and Metro Victoria, which are currently policed by municipal departments and RCMP detachments. A provincial force would provide cities and towns the option of joining the provincial service, forming their own force, or combining forces.

“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 B.C.’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 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.

“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?” he 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 B.C. and 130 RCMP detachments.

Former B.C. solicitor-general Kash Heed, who also served as West Vancouver’s police chief, supports a B.C.force 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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