Two small New Brunswick communities are planning to end their contracts with the RCMP.
The town of St. George and the village of Blacks Harbour want to replace the federal police force with a combined municipal police force.
The two communities pay the RCMP more than $500,000 collectively and say taxpayers aren’t getting a service that matches that expense.
'It was felt we weren't getting as much value as we should be from the RCMP for the amount it was costing.' - Natalie Harris, deputy mayor of Blacks Harbour
St. George voted unanimously Monday to end its contract. Blacks Harbour village council is expected to vote Wednesday to ask the province for permission to opt out of its RCMP contract.
St. George Mayor Sharon Tucker said RCMP response to last month’s ice storm was problematic.
“I am sure that the RCMP were out and working. But again, one of the issues identified through the ice event was communication. And there was not communication from the RCMP to the town,” she said.
Tucker said the plan to replace the RCMP has been discussed for more than a year. The town has 1,500 residents who pay nearly $350,000 for the RCMP.
“I placed a call. It took 45 minutes for response time. There was no officer available at this time,” Tucker said.
Lack of visible presence
Natalie Harris, deputy mayor of neighbouring Blacks Harbour, hears similar complaints.
“From the citizen's point of view, they like to see that there's a police officer, that there's a police car — that there's somebody there looking out for them,” she said.
Harris said the village council has a hard time figuring out what the RCMP does to earn its annual $194,000 payment from the village of fewer than 1,000 people.
“It was felt we weren't getting as much value as we should be from the RCMP for the amount that it was costing. So we wanted to look at other options,” she said.
The RCMP said policing is changing and that visibility is not a measure of effectiveness.
Cst. Jullie Rogers-Marsh said if something major happens, such as a homicide or a missing child, communities have access to federal services at no extra charge.
The Department of Public Safety will decide if the communities can end the RCMP presence. It said a community must demonstrate that it has secured an "adequate policing alternative" to get that permission.