Jonathan Franklin

Jonathan Franklin, the new chair of the Saint John Board of Police Commissioners, says the RCMP would be more expensive than the municipal police force. (courtesy of CAPG)

The new chair of the Saint John Board of Police Commissioners says city council is wasting time and causing unnecessary conflict with its review of the costs involved in switching to the RCMP.

"It's political grandstanding," Jonathan Franklin told CBC Information Morning Saint John on Thursday.

"That's really what it is, that’s what it amounts to," he said.

Saint John Mayor Mel Norton has said comparing costs between the city's municipal force and the Mounties is about putting taxpayers first; that it could be a way to save money.

But Franklin says he's done an unofficial study showing the RCMP would actually be more expensive for Saint John.

He reviewed a 2012 report prepared by the RCMP for the City of Moncton and says a line-by-line, apples-to-apples comparison shows Saint John's costs are lower by almost $1 million.

That information has been available to the police commission members, including the mayor, for a year-and-a-half, Franklin said.

"Why would anybody in their wildest dreams think that the RCMP would be cheaper coming in here? Our folks cover 315 square kilometres, Moncton RCMP covers 142 square kilometres. We have vulnerable neighbourhoods, they don't have them up there. It's a different environment. So you’ve got to take all of these things into account," he said.

Earlier this week, following a heated police commission meeting, the mayor told reporters he doesn't care about the information taken from a Moncton policing report. He said he wants to know about policing costs in Saint John.

Franklin also points to the communities of St. George and Blacks Harbour, which are taking steps to get out of their contracts with the federal police force.

"Look at the two communities down here in Charlotte County — hello. They're not happy with the RCMP," he said.

"Listen, I don't want to diss the RCMP, they're a great service, but the fact is, they are a hired service, they will not live in Saint John, they'll have people rotating in and out for two years, whereas our police force here, I mean they live here, they're part of the community."