BY RATTAN MALL
VANCOUVER Police sources told The VOICE that they do NOT want to join the integrated police teams, including the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT), that Suzanne Anton, Attorney General and Minister of Justice, recently suggested that all police departments do. They noted that their [Vancouver Police] system “is working really well for the citizens of Vancouver.”
And former solicitor general Kash Heed told me that “integration has proven not to be as effective as they make it out to be” and bluntly noted that Anton “should make the decision to regionalize policing in Metro Vancouver.”
Top Vancouver Police sources told me on Wednesday: “We are able to control our resources. We are able to put more or less on it depending on the incident. We have the ability to do that within our own system and so that serves people living in Vancouver well.”
They also noted: “The fact is that most of the big homicides don’t happen in Vancouver anymore. They happen in various RCMP jurisdictions basically. We commit our resources basically to augment RCMP numbers.
“If we have a homicide, like we did the other day, we can put as many people on it as we want. There’s no bureaucracy, there’s no problems. We can downsize if we need to. So we are happy with the way we are able to respond to such a violent crime.”
They added that they were sure that if all the crime were happening in Vancouver, the RCMP would be saying the same thing.
ANTON recently spelled out her intentions in a vague statement to some of the media. Her statement sent to The VOICE said:
“B.C. has the most integrated police teams per capita in Canada – and there’s a reason for that. We know that the effectiveness and efficiency of integration eliminates duplication, and increases the sharing of expertise and information among police agencies. So, integrating police services is a critical way to approach policing – and we are in fact looking for further opportunities.
“What we’ve just introduced is enabling legislation. It enables government to become involved if it needs to. My emphasis is on collaboration and working together and any initiative I take forward would be on a collaborative basis. You’ve got to establish that there’s a need for it, and generally, and certainly since the time of the missing women tragedy in Vancouver, there has been a greater interest and emphasis by police departments in working together.
“I’m not going to be forcing single police departments, particularly not in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland. We have been saying for a long time now that we are looking at pursuing options for more effective regional service delivery and not forcing amalgamation on municipalities. However, I will say that if municipalities want to come talk to me, I am very interested. There are some places that might be well suited to amalgamation.”
HEED, however, strongly disagreed with Anton’s stand.
He said: “Vancouver Police do not want to join IHIT. There are other departments – including Delta [Police] – that do not want to join IHIT.”
He added that as a matter of fact, one of the first things he did when he became the West Vancouver Police Chief was “to take that department out of IHIT and I contracted with the Vancouver Police’s homicide section” to investigate their homicide cases.
Heed said: “When Suzanne Anton, like many others, might say ‘we encourage it,’ but unless there is a strong decision by the Justice Minister to make it happen, it’s not going to happen.”
But he added: “I don’t think she should force integration because integration has proven not to be as effective as they make it out to be.”
Heed pointed out: “When you look at the whole integration thing – and I often use this comment – it’s just a band-aid solution to the big, gaping wound. And the big, gaping wound is the balkanized police system we have in Metro Vancouver. So you cannot just piecemeal this together.
“If she wants to make a decision for policing, she should make the decision to regionalize policing in Metro Vancouver. It’s what I have been calling for and many others have been calling for for many years, but unfortunately there is no movement by provincial government to make it happen, because it’s not going to happen if you leave it up to municipal government. It has to be the provincial government, because they are the ones under the Constitution Act that are responsible for policing in their province.”