British Columbia

B.C.'s single-officer RCMP detachments to be closed

Single-officer detachments in small, rural communities will close, confirms RCMP Deputy Commissioner Craig Callens, despite pleas by municipal leaders.
RCMP deputy commissioner Craig Callens. (Darryl Dyck/CP)

Despite pleas by municipal leaders, single-officer detachments in small, rural communities will close, RCMP Deputy Commissioner Craig Callens has told B.C. municipal leaders.

The Mounties have said they can no longer allow the detachments to continue because of labour laws, and Callens says the RCMP is moving to a minimum three-member detachment model.

"There are many reasons for that, not the least of which is officer safety," said Callens.

Delegates to the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention passed a motion Thursday, asking the B.C. government to help pay for additional officers in single-member detachments.

But despite the resolution, Callens said, it's unlikely the stations will stay open.

"From an economic perspective, I just don't think that the province will find themselves in a position to fund us for the type of operational availability and operational response costs that would be associated to a single member post," he said.

Callens trumpets new, better, contract with municipalities

Callens also told the annual meeting of 1,500 mayors, councillors and regional representatives that the new RCMP contract signed in March, will ensure police are more responsive and accountable to local government concerns.

For years, many have complained the RCMP have had all the control, setting community priorities, deciding the budget, then presenting municipalities with the bill.

The new contract changes that, said Callens.

"Most significantly is the setting of policing priorities with local governments, particularly on decisions that affect the cost of policing in our communities."

But not all delegates were convinced, including Burnaby councillor Nick Volkow. He said he's worried local governments will be sent a big bill for the new RCMP "E" Division headquarters in Surrey, scheduled to be complete in 2013.

"We've agreed to a contract, yet a great big balloon payment of $1.2 billion is sitting there, and no one knows how we're going to pick up the tab?"

Callens said the Surrey detachment is being negotiated separately, and this time a local representative will sit at the table.