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Cranbrook councillor heads to UBCM championing two-tiered policing

Sharon Cross hopes to see the motion succeed to open the door for the province to look at a new model.

A motion that could see a two-tiered policing system put in place in the province will go before the Union of British Columbia Municipalities at a meeting this week.

Coun. Sharon Cross first put forward the motion in council and was headed to the meeting in Vancouver, which goes from Sept. 16 - 20.

Cross said she put forth the motion as policing costs all over B.C. are rising.

"With the new 20-year agreement (with the RCMP), the cost to municipalities is going to continue to rise and we felt that we needed to do something different in terms of looking at policing models," Cross said.

She alluded to Alberta, which has the Peace Officer Act.

"What they really have is a two-tier policing system," she said. "The RCMP deal with major crimes: drugs, guns and gangs.

"That allows the peace officers to deal with other provincial and municipal acts such as traffic safety issues, community engagement around youth, community outreach programs and bylaws."

Cross said when Alberta implemented the Act, Okotoks hired four peace officers to start. The officers worked directly with the RCMP in the same building.

“Okotoks realized a tremendous cost savings, to the point where the peace officers were self-supported through all the ticketing and things they engaged in,” she said. “It really offset the municipal costs of policing.”

She said she hopes to see the motion succeed to open the door for the province to look at a new model.

There is the draft B.C. Policing and Safety Plan, which suggests looking at more special provincial constables, auxiliary bylaw officers and private security.

“However, the special provincial constables would be provincial employees and not municipal employees,” she said. “What we want is to have more responsibility and accountability for our policing. Under our current arrangement municipalities don’t have that.”

The motion has been approved by Cranbrook City Council and the AKBLG.

At the moment, municipalities pay the RCMP, but Cross said the ticketing is shared with the province.

“We already hire them, so why doesn’t the municipality just take that over with the second tier?” she said. “In Cranbrook we don’t have a full contingent and that’s kind of been the case for a while. So we kind of pay the overhead costs but are not getting the full benefits.”

She said this would free up the RCMP to pursue major crimes.

“It’s a major issue all over B.C.” she said.