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Residents want Richmond to stick with RCMP: Council report

Public consultation finds Richmond residents don’t think the cost of switching from the RCMP in favour of its own police force is justified.

Richmond RCMP stand outside a banquet hall where four men were shot in January 2013.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Richmond RCMP stand outside a banquet hall where four men were shot in January 2013.

A report to Richmond council says residents don’t support the cost of establishing an independent police force in the city.

The municipality launched a public consultation process earlier this year to see if the city should break out of its RCMP contract and possibly start its own municipal police department.

Council have been outspoken about the lack of oversight it has into the RCMP’s operations and finances in the city ever since British Columbia – along with five other provinces and three territories – entered into a new 20-year service agreement with the federal agency in 2012.

On Monday, city staff presented council’s general purposes committee with a summary of the consultation process, which consisted of more than 2,000 responses through an online survey and a poll conducted by public relations firm FleishmanHillard and the Mustel Research Group.

“Ultimately, many residents and stakeholders agree that the creation of a local, independent police force seems like a good idea and would reflect Richmond’s community values, needs and priorities,” the report states. “However, when taking into account the costs of establishing a new police force (both proposed transition cost and the addition funds required annually to support a new local police), residents were not convinced that there was enough cause for change.”

Staff reported that the conclusions were consistent between the survey and the polling.

A report last year found that transitioning to an independent police department would come with a one-time cost of $19.6 million and cost between $46.97 million and $48.67 million a year to operate.

The cost of keeping RCMP policing in the community is $44.74 million a year.

Richmond senior manager Ted Townsend told Metro it wasn’t surprising to see people supportive of the RCMP in the community.

“Council has always said that they’re pretty pleased with the level of service it gets from the RCMP. A lot of the issue we were looking at were about cost and governance,” said Townsend. “I can’t predict what council will do. But if they continue with the RCMP, we do have a process in place we could use to address concerns within the existing contract.”

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