RCMP Supts. Norm Gaumont (foreground) and Brian Cantera address White Rock council Dec. 2 regarding costs of integrated policing teams.

IHIT costs add up for White Rock

White Rock Coun. Al Campbell says costs for integrated teams are 'out of control.'

The costs of integrated-policing teams compared to results is fodder for the argument that White Rock and Surrey should amalgamate their police services.

That was the suggestion of White Rock Coun. Al Campbell Monday, following a presentation by Lower Mainland District RCMP commanders that largely focused on just how much goes into a homicide investigation.

“You know where this leads to? Shared services,” Campbell said.

Supts. Norm Gaumont and Brian Cantera were on hand to shed light on the costs of integrated teams – homicide, police-dog services, forensics, collision analysis and emergency response – which for White Rock amounted to $306,959 in 2012-’13. Of that, $99,167 was the city’s share for the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team.

While the officers said the city’s bill has climbed just .32 per cent per year since 2008-’09, Campbell said that still translates to “thousands… for a service we probably don’t use.”

Describing the costs as out of control, Campbell told Peace Arch News Wednesday that his concern is more to do with the murders that go unsolved.

“If you don’t solve them and you have these integrated teams in a billion-dollar building… we still are no further ahead than if it was just a local detachment doing it.

“I’m very satisfied with our police detachment… it’s just all these things that get loaded on top of us, if you like, and we have absolutely no control or say. It’s just frustrating as hell.”

Cantera said IHIT’s effectiveness has been “reflected wrongly in the media” of late. Since forming in 2003, the unit has averaged a 75 per cent “clearance rate” on homicide cases that don’t involve organized crime, he said.

Regarding amalgamating Surrey and White Rock police services, Mayor Wayne Baldwin told council it would essentially pull officers away from the seaside city to areas further north, where certain crimes are more prevalent.

He noted Surrey has logged 23 homicides so far this year, while White Rock hasn’t had any.

“Where do you think they’re going to put our police? They will not be here,” he said.

Opting out of the integrated homicide unit could easily land the city with a $1 million-plus bill in the event a murder does occur within its borders, he added.

Campbell later described the mayor’s comments as “a bit irritating.”

“It’s sort of scare tactics that if we join, we’ll have no policing here,” he told Peace Arch News. “I don’t think that’s true at all.

“If you have a car in Ocean Park, car in Crescent Beach, a car on 16th, a car in White Rock driving around, they are not going to go to Whalley/Newton or (Colebrook) Road when there’s a incident. The other vehicles that are in those areas will go.”

Campbell said the costs also support the use of surveillance cameras in public areas, a crime-solving tactic he said Canada is “so far behind” on compared to other countries. (Last year, city staff recommended against the move. A review of the cost, necessity and legality of installing cameras along the waterfront, determined it would be “difficult to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the Information and Privacy Commissioner that we have exhausted conventional means of achieving law-enforcement objectives on the pier, along the promenade, and area of the railway line.”)

Cantera said Monday that investigations are “often shortened in spades” when video evidence is available.

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