New Brunswick

Union tries to woo Sackville away from RCMP

The union representing some municipal police officers is lobbying two communities to give up the RCMP and return to a local force.

The union representing some municipal police officers is lobbying two communities to give up the RCMP and return to a local force.

CUPE made a pitch to the Town of Sackville Monday night, hoping to win back a community it lost to the RCMP back in 2003.

Sackville disbanded its local police force three years ago, and replaced it with Mounties.

According to CUPE spokesperson Bill McKinnon, that switch means the town is paying thousands of dollars more per officer. The union's research suggests switching back to a local police force would mean a $230,000 surplus for the town every year.

McKinnon admits the research may seem biased, coming from a union that represents municipal police officers. "That's an understandable perspective for folks to have, but the reality is that we got actual numbers. We invite anyone to scrutinize our costs. The only way we can be wrong is if the town gave us the wrong numbers."

Former Sackville police officer Colin Estabrooks lost his job on patrol when the RCMP took over the town. Only three of 11 municipal officers were hired by the RCMP, which patrols the town with 12 members.

Estabrooks says police are less visible now than they used to be, and he's noticed the same thing in other munipalities that switched to RCMP services. "I hear the same complaints in Moncton as I hear in Sackville about response times … and the amount of people policing the streets."

CUPE has conducted similar research in Moncton, hoping to convince municipalities to reinstate local police forces. Both Sackville Town Council and Moncton City Council have listened to presentations from CUPE, but neither have committed to a change in policing.

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