Greater Saint John studies regional police service

Rural communities around Saint John supported a motion on Monday to explore the possibility of creating a regional police force.

Fundy Regional Service Commission approved a motion to study a regional police force

Rural communities around Saint John supported a motion on Monday to explore the possibility of creating a regional police force.

Members of the Fundy Regional Service Commission voted against exploring the idea of a regional police force last year. (Connell Smith/CBC)
The rural communities voted in favour of the motion at the Fundy Regional Service Commission meeting, which is a significant departure from when the idea was raised a year ago.

Last year, Saint John Mayor Mel Norton could not find a person on the commission to second his motion to study the concept of regional policing.

Norton said he was “incredibly grateful” to the communities for agreeing to study the regional police concept.

"It's a step in the right direction," Norton said.

"It`s progress, it's about, ultimately, collaboration. And more importantly than all of that it`s about providing better value and better service to the citizens of this region."​

The Saint John mayor said it is too early to know what form this regional police service could follow.

"It could be all of the region policed by the Saint John Police Force, it could be only the local service districts and Saint John being policed by our police force. It could be any combination of that,” Norton said.

Joan Seeley, the commissioner for the Simonds local service district, initiated the motion to study a regional police force.

She said rural communities are being asked to ante up more money for the RCMP to police their areas.

Seeley said her local service district is very close to Saint John so a regional police service could be a way to trim their policing costs.

The motion will study a regional police force that would cover the entire region as well as the costs of the Saint John police to cover each individual community. (CBC)
"It could possibly be a little bit cheaper for us. I'm not sure of that, that's why we're exploring that area," she said.

Seeley said Saint John police could respond to an emergency in Simonds faster than the RCMP.

The Fundy Regional Service Commission includes the local service districts of Simonds, Musquash, St. Martins, Kingston, Westfield, Greenwich and Petersville. Saint John, Rothesay, Quispamsis and Grand Bay-Westfield are the towns and cities on the commission.

The motion was supported by all the local service district commissioners, as well as saint John and Grand Bay-Westfield. Meanwhile, the towns in the Kennebecasis Valley voted against the motion.

Saint John has its own police force, while the Kennebecasis Regional Police Force covers Rothesay and Quispamsis. The KV Regional Police costs $5.5 million per year and that is roughly split in half between the two towns.

Grand Bay-Westfield has contracted its policing service from the RCMP since 1998.