COLUMN: Single regional force would take a toll here

One issue now being raised by some in the wake of the 2011 Stanley Cup riot is regional policing.

This idea, if it came to fruition, would do a grave disservice to Surrey and other South Fraser communities. It should not get to first base with either local or provincial decision-makers.

On the night of the Vancouver riots, Surrey RCMP and several other detachments co-operated to ensure that there was sufficient police presence at 72 Avenue and Scott Road, which has been a gathering place for hockey fans throughout the playoffs. There was no trouble.

Police were also present at the community celebration at Central City. Again, there was no trouble.

Many of the police who were on duty in Surrey were called to Vancouver, when it became clear that there were big problems downtown, with arson, vandalism, looting and many other problems.

In the wake of the riot, Angus Reid Public Opinion conducted an online survey to see if there was more support for a regional police force. Not surprisingly, there was. Three-in-five respondents favour an amalgamation of the RCMP and various city police forces that serve the Lower Mainland. Most municipalities have ether an RCMP detachment or their own force, with a few RCMP detachments such as Coquitlam, Langley and North Vancouver serving more than one municipality.

The big problem that would result from one regional force is that it would be far too concentrated in Vancouver. As the riot so clearly pointed out, many people from throughout the region congregate in Vancouver for various events. However, it is important to point out that they are specifically invited there by the City of Vancouver.

The city was proud of how many people it was attracting downtown with the hockey games on big screens and street closures. Until Game 7, there were very few problems.

The city also invites people to come to the annual fireworks displays each summer – and to many other events, such as parades, the PNE and other smaller gatherings. The Grey Cup game will be held in downtown Vancouver in November.

Surrey and other communities would get short shrift on many occasions, if there was regional policing. Officers on duty in Surrey would be told to go to Vancouver, and would be unable to answer calls here in a timely fashion.

We all know how well Surrey, Delta, Langley and White Rock have been served by a regional transit system. This area gets the short end of the stick. The exact same thing would happen if there was one regional police force, because its primary focus would be on the City of Vancouver.

There is some logic to having fewer police detachments and more regional task forces. The Integrated Homicide Investigative Team (IHIT) has worked very well, with virtually all Lower Mainland police forces except Vancouver taking part.

If there is a move towards integrating day-to-day policing, the logical choice would be to combine Vancouver, Burnaby, New Westminster and possibly the North Shore and Richmond forces. While this would mean a mixture of city forces with the RCMP, something could likely be worked out.

If Surrey is ever to be part of a regional force, it should only be one made up of South Fraser municipalities. Given the close level of co-operation between the Surrey, White Rock and Langley RCMP detachments and Delta Police, it seems that a formal combination isn’t all that necessary.

Local politicians have to stand up for residents of this area, and make it clear that South Fraser communities would not be part of a regional police force. At the same time, local police detachments need to serve as backup to Vancouver and other police forces when necessary – as they did so admirably on the night of the riots.

Frank Bucholtz writes Fridays for the Peace Arch News. He is the editor of the Langley Times.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Laura Barnes is to feature some of her artwork at Gallery at Central Plaza next month. (Contributed photo)
New artist showcase coming to White Rock gallery

Laura Barnes work, mixing brights and darks, to be displayed in February

White Rock Public Library (File photo)
Surrey, White Rock literacy leaders kick off Family Literacy Week

Literacy events to take place Jan. 24 to 31

Surrey Community Cat Foundation received funding to assist with medical procedures. (File photo)
SurreyCats receives grant to assist with spay/neuter costs

PetSmart Charities of Canada donates $5,000

Beds are set up at the emergency response centre at the North Surrey Recreation Centre. (Contributed file photo)
26 people test positive for COVID-19 at Surrey emergency shelter

Centre located at North Surrey Recreation Centre

Surrey firefighters respond to a townhouse fire Sunday morning. (Shane MacKichan photos)
Firefighters respond to townhouse fire in Surrey

Fire ‘knocked down quickly’: witness

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders sits in on a COVID-19 briefing with Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, B.C. minister of health. (Birinder Narang/Twitter)
PHOTOS: Bernie Sanders visits B.C. landmarks through the magic of photo editing

Residents jump on viral trend of photoshopping U.S. senator into images

A woman injects herself with crack cocaine at a supervised consumption site Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Drug users at greater risk of dying as services scale back in second wave of COVID-19

It pins the blame largely on a lack of supports, a corrupted drug supply

Wet’suwet’en supporters and Coastal GasLink opponents continue to protest outside the B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, February 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
‘We’re still in it’: Wet’suwet’en push forward on rights recognition

The 670-km Coastal GasLink pipeline was approved by B.C. and 20 elected First Nations councils on its path

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Jennifer Cochrane, a Public Health Nurse with Prairie Mountain Health in Virden, administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Robert Farquhar with Westman Regional Laboratory, during the first day of immunizations at the Brandon COVID-19 vaccination supersite in Brandon, Man., on Monday, January 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tim Smith - POOL
Top doctor urges Canadians to keep up with COVID measures, even as vaccines roll out

More than 776,606 vaccines have been administered so far

Dr. Jerome Leis and Dr. Lynfa Stroud are pictured at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto on Thursday, January 21, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
‘It wasn’t called COVID at the time:’ One year since Canada’s first COVID-19 case

The 56-year-old man was admitted to Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

An Uber driver’s vehicle is seen after the company launched service, in Vancouver, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. Several taxi companies have lost a court bid to run Uber and Lyft off the road in British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Taxi companies lose court bid to quash Uber, Lyft approvals in British Columbia

Uber said in a statement that the ruling of the justice is clear and speaks for itself

sd
VIDEO: Mission drag racer scores 1st career win, sets world record, makes history in 2020

Justin Bond, founder and owner of JBS Equipment Mission, has break-out year

Most Read