The City of Richmond is considering creating its own police force, separate from the RCMP — and that could give it greater control over policing policy, according to one retired police officer.
The RCMP have policed Richmond since 1950, when the island was mostly a farming community. But the city has considered creating a municipal police force in recent years and experts are weighing in on the pros and cons of such a move.
"And now it's quite a dynamic city with probably about 208,00 people with a big downtown core and it's really a little metropolis," said Andy Hobbs, a longtime Richmond resident and retired Vancouver police officer.
"Looking at the policing option is quite natural."
Hobbs says the RCMP has been doing a good job in Richmond and a move away from them would not necessarily mean better police officers.
But having a municipal police force means city council would be able to tailor the direction of its police force to local needs, he notes.
"It's not really about the members of the entities. It's about things, for me, like accountability, [and] local influence on policy."
City council would have almost total control over the policing budget, says Hobbs.
"If they say we'd like you [the police] to hold 20 vacancies or we'd like you to hire 20 people or we'd like you to keep your car's five years longer, you're going to do that. Because they're the ones who cut the cheque and the buck stops at city hall."
Retaining officers in Richmond
Another big advantage to having a municipal police force is that officers tend to stay with force for their entire career, says Hobb.
In comparison, RCMP officers sometimes have to relocate to other cities due to the organization's provincial and federal obligations.
"In my career, everybody that retired from the Vancouver Police Department out of my class spent their entire career there."
He says it has worked well for Vancouver.
"So you get somebody who is selected, recruited, trained in Vancouver ... and you get to retain those people."
Richmond residents can submit their thoughts on a municipal police force here.
To listen to the full audio, click the link labelled: Should Richmond form its own police force?