An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
IF THE IDEA OF a Kamloops municipal police force ever rears its head again, a look at what’s going on in Surrey would be in order.
A report on the costs of switching from the RCMP to a municipal force was released this week and it shows it would cost 10.9 per cent more and have fewer members.
If that’s typical, Kamloops taxpayers would be looking at an increase of about $2.75 million a year under a similar scenario.
The supposed benefit to Surrey residents in exchange for higher taxes and fewer members is that a municipal force would better understand the policing needs of the city and would, therefore, do a better job.
The transition, if approved by the province, would be no easy feat. An administrative re-organization and new equipment would be needed. Even the cost of repainting police cars would be several hundred thousand dollars.
But what about the claim that local police would be more in synch with the needs of the community?
In Kamloops, a lot has been done to improve the partnership between the city and RCMP. The force works closely with City Hall on committees and on a day-to-day basis.
Under a formal protocol, the superintendent immediately informs the mayor of any major police actions. New ways of integrating policing with social services are being explored. City council plays a major role in hiring superintendents.
The availability of the Emergency Response Team, the anti-gang unit and other expertise, without needing to maintain them within the local detachment, provides high-quality services at an economical cost.
It would be very tough indeed to make a case that the high cost of switching to a municipal force in Kamloops would be worth it.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and newspaper editor. He publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.