The government has introduced changes to the Police Act that enable them to force municipalities to join integrated policing services. Integrated services can be an excellent solution, but as Delta staff reported, "Mandatory participation in integrated police units should only be considered if there is a public safety concern." Delta Mayor and Council believe their police services are working well, and they passed the following resolution earlier this month:
"THAT Mayor Lois E. Jackson advise the Honourable Suzanne Anton, Minister of Justice and Attorney General, that the Corporation of Delta does not support legislative changes that would compel municipal participation in integrated regional policing units, such as the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team, and that Delta Council would like to retain its authority to decide whether or not to join integrated policing units to ensure public safety in Delta is not compromised."
Mayor Jackson later met with the Minister of Justice and reported that she was told the changes in the bill would not apply to Delta. But there is nothing in the bill that provides an exemption to Delta, and it could indeed be forced to integrate its services at any time. In order to get them on the record that there is no exemption for any municipality, and to support the concerns of our Mayor and Council, I introduced an amendment that would have required municipalities' consent to join integrated services, instead of forcing them to do so. The government voted against the amendment, and it is clear they have not been up front about its changes. There is no exemption for Delta or any other municipality.
Government reverses position on integrated policing: Huntington
Victoria, B.C. – Delta South MLA Vicki Huntington says new government legislation will force municipalities to join unwanted arrangements for integrated regional policing services.
“Where there’s a public safety concern, integrated policing services can be a good solution,” says Huntington. “But the government is not presenting an actual plan. Instead, it is telling all municipalities in British Columbia that they can be forced to join integrated policing services. And if they are, that they must comply and they must pick up part of the bill.”
Huntington introduced an amendment that would have required a municipality to provide its consent before joining an integrated policing service, instead of being forced by the province to do so. The government voted against the change.
“The government voted against including municipalities in the decision-making process,” says Huntington. “Mayor Jackson reported that she met with the Minister of Justice and was told Delta and other Lower Mainland municipalities won’t be forced to participate, but there is nothing in the Act that exempts any local government.”
Delta Council passed a resolution against forced participation in specialized regional policing units at a recent council meeting. Asked in the Legislature if Delta would be exempt from the new legislation, the minister said: “There are no exemptions,” and “this legislation can apply to any municipality.”
“The minister has reversed her assurances to Delta,” says Huntington. “No municipality that is satisfied with its policing services should be forced to join and pay for specialized units. Many of these integrated units already operate and were developed voluntarily by police forces throughout the region. A hammer is not needed to force local governments to participate.”
“This bill can affect any municipality,” says Huntington. “If the government was being transparent, it would be up front about what it has in mind and it would ensure that municipalities agreed to the process.”
The changes to the Police Act are expected to become law this week.