St. George council considers switch to municipal policing
Town to study cost of municipal police model compared to current service provided by RCMP
Just as the city of Saint John is starting to investigate the cost of switching from municipal policing to the RCMP, the town of St. George is looking to do the opposite.
St. George council has begun a cost review of getting rid of the RCMP and reverting back to a municipal force.
Town mayor Sharon Tucker says policing costs are escalating for the small community of 1,600. The town currently pays $344,800 for two full-time officers.
"We're looking at costs, we're looking at service delivery, we're looking at numbers," said Tucker. "All of that will be part of the presentation that will be presented to council for review."
Up until 1988, the town of St. George had its own municipal police chief and three officers but it became more of a challenge to afford as standards changed, said Tucker.
I assume Saint John councillors are making the decision for the same reason St. George council is making the decision, to ensure they’re getting the best service for their dollars,- St. George Mayor Sharon Tucker
After a series of public meetings, a decision was made to switch to the RCMP, based on its model of service delivery, she said.
But costs have continued to rise, and residents have brought forward concerns about the availability and visibility of officers in the town.
"We recognize that service delivery models change, so … we felt it appropriate for the municipality to stand back and take a look at both options," said Tucker.
The town has asked the Saint John Police Force for an estimate of its costs, because it it would need to partner with another municipality to make a case for a switch.
"It seems like a good match at this point in time. They are our closest geographical municipal force," Tucker said.
Council plans to study those details at a meeting later in January, and begin the initial review. If council decides to move forward with switching to a municipal police model, the town would need approval from the Minister of Public Safety.
It would also be required to give one year's notice to the RCMP. The force's contract is up for renewal this year.
Meanwhile, the City of Saint John voted on Monday to take a serious look at the process and cost involved in switching to the RCMP for police protection.
Tucker said if the city decides on a change in policing, St. George could look into other municipal police models in the province.
"I assume Saint John councillors are making the decision for the same reason St. George council is making the decision, to ensure they’re getting the best service for their dollars," Tucker said.