RCMP warns Moncton against a local force

New Brunswick's senior RCMP officer warned Moncton residents to avoid reverting to a municipal police force at a public meeting on Monday night.

The Codiac Regional RCMP's senior officer warned Moncton residents of the potential problems that could result by reverting to a municipal police force at a public meeting on Monday night.

Moncton councillors held their second public meeting into the future of the city's relationship with the RCMP.

Councillors are studying whether to stick with the Codiac Regional RCMP, set up a local RCMP detachment or switch back to a city police force.

Codiac RCMP Supt. Wayne Gallant said the proposed municipal force would be risky.

He said the plan wouldn't have enough officers to provide for proper drug enforcement, crime scene investigation duties or major investigations.

"As the chief of the current service, as someone whose responsibility currently is to do all I can to maximize that level of safety and security under the current model, this causes me concern," Gallant said.

"I think citizens throughout Moncton should be equally concerned if this model were ever to be implemented the risk are extraordinarily high with minimal cost savings."

Gallant said the proposed municipal police force would be under-resourced and the proposed budget is unrealistic.

City council asked members of the community on Monday night for their input on the future of policing in Moncton.

Local force cheaper: group

Mark Fenity was one of the citizens at the public meeting who thought it was unfair for the provincial government to get rid of the Moncton Police Force roughly 13 years ago.

"This is an opportunity after 12 years to right that wrong. It's taken that long to right that wrong because of the long contract we have with the RCMP," Fenity said.

Greg Murphy said he remembers his father who spent 45 years as a police officer in Moncton.

He said he finds RCMP officers on patrol are not friendly.

"I don't know if they get any training in their human relations but they always seem to be aloof, that we the public are their enemy," Murphy said.

"I don't think that should be happening here."

Most supporters of a municipal force say it would cheaper.

Dean Secord, the president of the New Brunswick Police Association, said this week the city would save roughly $5 million by switching to a municipal police force.

However, Gallant said in order for a local police force to be significantly cheaper than the RCMP, it would curtail staffing.

"You are substantially cutting the level of policing service currently being provided to the citizens of Moncton, in fact it is a lower level of service than existed in 1998," he said.

Moncton began discussing its policing options earlier in 2010 after years of concerns that the city was paying too much for the service.

Dieppe and Riverview agreed to a restructuring of the cost-sharing agreement.

Each community's cost will be based on a formula that includes population, assessment and calls for service.

By 2012, Moncton's share of the Codiac RCMP budget will drop to 70 per cent from 74 per cent, which would save an estimated $1.2 million.