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No political appetite to dump RCMP

The latest in a series of high-profile black eyes for the RCMP isn’t likely to alter plans to retain the Mounties as the police force of choice in Richmond and British Columbia, according to local politicians.

Last week, The Richmond Review revealed that the lead investigator in a botched local ecstasy investigation, was subsequently charged with obstruction of justice in relation to the probe into the handling of the Surrey Six multiple-murder investigation in 2007.

But local politicians don’t believe the Mounties’ days are numbered.

“It’s really bothersome to me...this ongoing saga of misadventure with the RCMP,” former Delta Richmond-East MP and current B.C. Conservative Party leader John Cummins said. “I’m sure in any one day, across the country and across British Columbia, the RCMP has thousands of interactions with the public that are positive. But every once in a while, something happens, sometimes with a significant file.”

Cummins said it should be the cream of the crop who are leading these investigations but that doesn’t appear to be happening.

Turning to a municipal police force comes with a heftier price tag thanks to start-up and training costs, he said. And considering the current economic climate, Cummins doesn’t believe Richmond and B.C. taxpayers have an appetite for that.

Richmond Coun. Ken Johnston agrees that at Metro Vancouver, nobody is eager to take on a pricier policing alternative.

“I believe there would be a major initial cost implication of a regional police force...Metro Vancouver’s RCMP cities don’t have an appetite for changing over,” he said.

The decision to second an RCMP officer from Richmond to work on the Stanley Cup riot investigation led by Vancouver Police wasn’t something broached with local politicians.

That’s an example of a lack of communication and accountability that politicians hope to address as work continues on hammering out a new RCMP contract in B.C.

Johnston said the decision to second the officer, at Richmond’s expense, was not made by Richmond RCMP Supt. Rennie Nesset, but his superiors.

Johnston complimented Nesset on the job he’s done on community outreach and heading up the department.

Coun. Greg Halsey-Brandt isn’t convinced that a municipal police force would be immune to the types of issues the RCMP has faced in recent years.

He questions whether the screening process during  RCMP’s recruiting blitz in recent years, when it took on hundreds of new members, was as thorough as it should have been.

Halsey-Brandt doesn’t believe a civic force would cost more, noting that the city already pays for supplying the building, administration, vehicles and weapons.

Negotiations over a new provincial RCMP deal are ongoing. One area Halsey-Brandt hopes will be addressed relates to control. The province wants to ensure there are no unilateral decisions made by the federal government regarding policing.

“That could certainly help,” he said.

Halsey-Brandt believes the majority of Richmond council are leaning towards keeping the RCMP in Richmond.

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