Richmond to keep RCMP after residents reject independent police force

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Flickr / BC Emergency Photography

The City of Richmond will be sticking with the RCMP for its policing needs for the foreseeable future following a decision by City Council on Monday evening.

This follows the release of the findings of a public consultation conducted earlier this year that engaged residents on the question of whether the municipal government should create its own independent police force.

A report submitted to Council found that most residents in the municipality are against the transition based on the high cost. Richmond’s policing requirements are currently fulfilled by a detachment of the RCMP funded by the municipality.

The “Let’s Talk Richmond” survey found that 67% support the funding model for the RCMP while just 29% support the independent police force funding model.

A local independent police force, similar to the structures of the Vancouver Police and West Vancouver Police, would cost between $46.97 million and $48.67 million to operate on an annual basis.

In contrast, Richmond taxpayers currently pay $44.74 million per year for the RCMP’s coverage, a figure that already accounts for approximately 20% of the municipality’s annual budget. There are significant economies of scale provided by the RCMP’s national network, which effectively reduces operational costs and the need for redundancies.

In addition to increases in the annual operational cost, an independent police force would have a one-time estimated $19.6-million start-up cost. This may include new facilities, equipment, patrol cars, and other initial capital expenses.

Council has previously voiced issues over the accountability and governance of the Richmond RCMP, given that the municipality does not have any control of detachment’s finances and that the policing work is governed by a police board in Ottawa.

But residents in the survey disagreed with Council and staff recommendations, with 59% of survey respondents saying they have a greater confidence in the RCMP for local decision making authority and community needs. Only 43% said the same for an independent police force.

Overall, 62% of respondents said they preferred the RCMP model while 32% support an independence police force model.

Richmond City Council renewed its contract with the RCMP for a 20-year term in 2012 with significant reservations.

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