Friday, February 20, 2009

METRO POLICE


I am surprised at and disappointed by Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts, who convened a meeting of Metro mayors the other day to discuss a regional police force.

"What we have right now is a good policing model," she said. "We will be working with what we have because it does work."

Huh?

What has made Watts such a rare and valuable politician in the past few years is that she has not been hide-bound to the status quo. She has shown repeatedly a willingness to move on to new approaches when the old clearly wasn't working.

How in any conscience can she claim in the face of the last two weeks of gang shoot-ups on our public streets that the current system of a dozen separate police forces is working?

Now read in its entirety Retired Justice Wallace Craig on the same subject.

TIME TO STOP BUCK PASSING

February 18, 2009

ON Oct.17, 2007, British Columbia’s inter-gang feuding went far beyond the pale of human decency.

Two innocent men, Ed Schellenberg and Chris Mohan, chanced upon an execution-in-progress and were immediately shot to death alongside four gangsters.

Premier Gordon Campbell and Attorney General Wally Oppal stood on the sidelines while the RCMP’s Integrated Homicide Team began a massive and glacially slow investigation that has yet to result in the arrest of any suspects.

In the immediate aftermath of the killing of Schellenberg and Mohan, the premier and his attorney should have acted swiftly to deal with this absolute circumstance: that gangsters in British Columbia are contemptuous of police and the judiciary; that they go about their dirty business with impunity with only the slimmest chance of being apprehended, convicted and ending up with a long and hard jail sentence.

Since October 2007, it has been business as usual for the street gangs with their feuding kept on simmer. But the heat was turned up between Feb. 2 and Feb.12 with a spate of shootings and shootouts, some of them involving the use of automatic weapons.

On Feb. 6, in Langley Township, a gangland shooting in a mall aroused the ire of Mayor Rick Green. “In some respects, you feel helpless, but Lower Mainland mayors have got to try and raise the level of our voices. We’ve got to absolutely stand up and say enough is enough,” said Green, who believes that federal legislators must write tougher laws.

In the same report in the Vancouver Sun of Feb. 9, Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts said that the violence throughout the Lower Mainland “shows how brazen these individuals are.”

After nine shootings in the first two weeks of February, Premier Gordon Campbell finally woke up to reality and talked tough. Flanked by two top cops, Vancouver Chief Const. Jim Chu and RCMP Deputy Commissioner Gary Bass, boss of B.C.’s massive E Division, Campbell promised 168 more police officers and a handful of prosecutors.

This magnum-force, Dirty-Harry impersonation by Campbell, coming just three months before an election in May, should be compared with his inactivity before and after the murder of Schellenberg and Mohan in October 2007.

The way I see it, Premier Campbell has ignored the solemn commitment in section 2 of the Police Act of British Columbia “to ensure that an adequate and effective level of policing and law enforcement is maintained throughout British Columbia.”

Campbell seems oblivious to the dysfunctional coupling of two distinct police models in the patchwork of municipal parochialism in the Lower Mainland – a coupling incapable of dealing with free-ranging street gangs.

And Campbell seems oblivious to the precarious state of the RCMP, so badly managed by an inept command structure that it must now endure the ultimate ignominy of working under the direction of a civilian commissioner.

Viewed through the lens of gang activity and rampant drug activity, we are revealed to be a metropolitan community that is far short of adequate and effective policing and law enforcement.

Compare the way policing is carried out in the cities of Vancouver and Surrey using two different models, and make your own assessment.

Surrey, policed under contract by the RCMP:

· no control over hiring, firing and disciplining of officers;

· a detachment commander who does not have the independence and authority of a chief constable;

· all members subject to the authority of the Deputy Commissioner in charge of E Division and the ultimate authority of the Commissioner of the RCMP in Ottawa.

The Surrey detachment is not bound to comply with the provincial Police Act and its complaint process; nor can the municipality govern it with an independent police board; and it is not responsible to the provincial minister in charge of policing in British Columbia.

Vancouver, policed by the Vancouver Police Department under independent command of Chief Const. Jim Chu:

· all constables in the VPD including its chief constable are hired, promoted and may even be dismissed by the Vancouver Police Board;

· the command structure is in constant change with promotions from the lower ranks;

· the force is firmly rooted in Vancouver and is capable of generating short and long term analysis of criminal activity in Vancouver, and the manner in which the justice system deals with offenders.

In keeping with an essential and traditional aspect of his responsibility and duty as chief constable, Chu is proactively engaged in public comment and debate on anything that interposes between his force and their goal of maintaining adequate and effective policing in the City of Vancouver.

My prediction is that mayors and councillors of Lower Mainland municipalities, policed by RCMP detachments, will continue to whine and complain about murderous gangsters while they cling to the status quo. The alternative is too tough for them to manage: to venture where they have never been before and work together to institute a metropolitan police force.

One thing they should do is to constantly remind themselves of the horrific murders of Ed Schellenberg and Chris Mohan by placing a small sign on their desks: The Buck Stops Here.

wallace-gilby-craig@shaw.ca

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

The province has ultimate authority of the police structure in BC. However, Victoria doesn't want to alienate Metro mayors, who are comfortable within their fiefdoms, by imposing a regional police force.

It would be a slam-dunk if the mayors were on board, though.

And if the Metro mayors don't change their tune soon, perhaps we should amalgamate Metro into one city - similar to what's been done already in Toronto, Montreal, and Halifax.

Imagine the influence an expanded Vancouver mayor would have on the Provincial and Federal scene, instead of the current situation where Vancouver sits humbly in 8th place in Canadian cities, snuggled humbly between Hamilton and Winnipeg.

Maybe then the Province would also keep their noses out of civic affairs, as they should.

Anonymous said...

Next thing we are going to see is Campbell wearing a black watch cap and his plaid shirt again with a side arm strapped on and hanging low, prowling through the streets looking for those "miscreants" BAH!

The guy's a wimp and would melt at the sight of a gun held by someone who would use it.

David in North Burnaby BC said...

Watts talks a good game, but as readers of Laila Yuile's blog have been learning, its all talk.

Laila said...

David,I urge you to visit Surrey, so you can see what the press does not show about Dianne Watts and her methods.
Come walk around my neighbourhood.

Come see the still not done and past due Olympic Volunteer centre that was approved by council -without her revealing to all of them that she had actually signed away the legal rights of the city and its taxpayers in the event of a dispute in the project- which could happen.

People worried about what happened to the Millenium project in Vancouver, and yet here in Surrey this project has missed one deadline and they are already planning for what they are going to do if it is not done by the next one - and possibly having to rent other community facilities out to VANOC to cover their failure.

The money spent on all of this would have paid for quite a few new cops here, but running the Olympic flag was more important.

Dianne Watts has never wanted a regional force- this is nothing new for those of us who live here.She thinks we have different policing needs because "we have more children in Surrey" - this reason and a host of others that make no sense to anyone but her.

One should be questioning not only why she refuses to consider this solution,but also questioning the flawed statistics and plans in her entire crime prevention plan.

It simply does not work.Given much more time with this situation left unchecked, Whally and Newton will be just as bad as the DTES - and this was just recently mentioned to me by an RCMP officer stationed here.

We have just as many, if not more, social agencies as the DTES, and yet the homeless,addicted and mentally ill are everywhere.Just as the DTES continues to decline, as do we.

The police shuffle all of them from one area to another in " Crime sweeps"- which is what has happened several times in Whalley. Crack down there, they all move to my neighbourhood -or the next one. Nothing is fixed, just moved temporarily.

I speak for many when I talk about frustration in getting her to address the real issues.
This latest move is only the most public of them all that is getting noticed by people not actually living here in Surrey.

Her insistance of a community court without all the resources to back it up properly will be the next in a long line of decisions that will do little to solve the rampant crime that makes Surrey it's home.

Anonymous said...

It seems that in order to creat a regional police force we should eliminate the unending waste of the 10 or so little cities with the supporting infrastructure. One big city with one set of councilors. One garbage one sewer etc. We could save millions or more.One city hall. One set of scandals.

Anonymous said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FcwXSj7wMys&NR=1

Mo.

David in North Burnaby BC said...

"...eliminate the unending waste of the 10 or so little cities with the supporting infrastructure. One big city with one set of councilors..."

Without the ward system, that would be lead to an even more atrocious "taxation without representation" situation than we have now.
Instead of mayors and councilors in each little fiefdom living in well-off enclaves with private security, they'd all live in Point Grey and be even more out of touch with the neighborhoods, like Ms Yuile's and my own, for examples "out in the boonies".
Amalgamation, without the ward system (and the sheeple have shown themselves easily bamboozled on that one), such as exists in other "mega cities" like toronto, Halifax or where have you, would be a disaster for anyone east of Main or south of the river.