West Shore municipalities are funding an increase of officers and civilian employees with West Shore RCMP but View Royal, Colwood and Langford are also asking that the province pay for at least three more general duty officers.
The three municipalities wrote a joint letter to the province, saying it has been under funding the West Shore RCMP detachment by paying for four officers instead of seven.
West Shore RCMP has 81 officers that police Colwood, Langford, View Royal, Highlands Metchosin, Esquimalt Nation, Songhees Nation, portions of the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area and the Trans-Canada Highway.
West Shore municipalities all contribute to the West Shore RCMP force and the West Shore mayors agree that doing so is the best course of action for their communities.
Here’s what the mayors had to say when they were asked why they fund RCMP rather than their own municipal police force:
Colwood Mayor Rob Martin
“This is a great example of what amalgamation truly looks like,” Martin said. “West Shore RCMP is not Colwood or Langford or View Royal, it’s all of us and what happens is we share those officers.”
Colwood was recently voted one of the safest communities in Canada and the second-safest city in B.C. Martin said he recognizes that West Shore RCMP officers may be spending more time in other municipalities and that the city is supportive of their work regardless of where it is.
“We recognize that criminals certainly don’t see borders,” Martin said. “If we focus on the West Shore as one community from a crime standpoint, that keeps us all healthy.”
Martin also noted that pitching in to fund the West Shore RCMP is much more cost effective and efficient than Colwood having its own police force.
“The fact that we have now chosen to fund two more officers means that we really believe they’re doing an awesome job and we continue to expect the same level of awesome service,” Martin said.
Langford Mayor Stew Young
“We’re happy with the RCMP,” Young said, noting that they have been serving Langford since he became mayor 25 years ago.
Young said he believes politicians have to support the RCMP in order to make sure they do a good job for community members. He said Langford is trying to get the police force to the highest level possible to make sure the community is safe.
“As long as you fund your police force to the strength that they require, they’ll do a good job,” Young said. “We just have to make sure that the politicians support the RCMP and make sure they can keep our community safe.”
Young noted that regardless of whether or not the city had its own private force or the RCMP, they would still have to be funded. He also said an increasing population in the West Shore is leading up to a need for more police officers.
Having all municipalities contribute to the police force is “the best model” according to Young, because it is integrated, and he said Langford is also willing to pay more in order to have more policing than average in the city and keep it safe.
View Royal Mayor David Screech
Screech said the benefits of sharing policing between West Shore municipalities are big.
“We can all pull on each other’s resources when we need them,” Screech said. “It’s a huge benefit to residents.”
Before View Royal became a municipality, RCMP already policed the area, Screech said. Rather than creating a separate police force for View Royal, Screech said the municipality decided to carry on with RCMP officers.
“The cost to set up a municipal police force would be significant,” Screech said. “We’re very happy with the RCMP. We get good reports back from residents on the service they provide and have seen no reason to do anything else but be policed by RCMP.”
Screech said he thinks West Shore municipalities are able to excel by sharing services for their residents and keeping the cost down. He said it also gives municipalities more flexibility in being able to respond to difficult situations.
“If we had just a standalone municipal force I think our resources would be much more scarce than what they are with the strength of the whole detachment behind them.,” Screech said.
Highlands Mayor Ken Williams
Williams said that as a small municipality, Highlands benefits greatly by being serviced by West Shore RCMP.
As a municipality with under 5,000 residents, Highlands does not pay as much as the other municipalities as per provincial rules but Williams said they still pay for what evens out to be about one and a half officers.
Williams said West Shore RCMP have made a great effort for the municipality and noted that they have many resources that an individual municipal force would not have.
“I thoroughly support the RCMP and I think it’s all good,” Williams said.
Metchosin Mayor John Ranns
Ranns said the reason for contributing funding to West Shore RCMP rather than a separate police force for Metchosin is simple.
“It comes down to the bottom line which is the RCMP provides the best service for the price,” Ranns said. “By cooperating the way we do it enables us to get a complete service…the RCMP has a lot of resources and it enables us to get that at an affordable price.”
Ranns said in his own experience, the RCMP have been very conscious about working with the municipality to provide the kinds of services that are wanted as well.
He also noted that combining services for the five municipalities works well and does not result in them dealing with much bureaucracy.
“Any time we can call RCMP and ask for a change or surveillance on something,” Ranns said. “I’m quite happy with the service from the RCMP.”