Police Chief Jim Chu made it clear last month that a decision to implement a regional police force in the Lower Mainland should be left to politicians.
But a report written by his department in 2008 questioned the effectiveness of the current policing model in the Lower Mainland that has a mix of RCMP and municipal detachments.
"It is questionable as to whether the existing disparate policing structures can provide the level of service that residents of every municipality have come to expect," said the report, which was prepared by the Vancouver Police Department's planning and audit section for the Vancouver Police Board.
The report said a close examination of the policing model in the Lower Mainland would discover "economic inefficiencies, service and funding disparities, separate complaint and accountability processes and a lack of policies and procedures to facilitate collaboration and coordination among the myriad of police services in the region."
Neither the police board or the department ever released the report but it can now be viewed on the website of Simon Fraser University criminologist Curt Taylor Griffiths, who assisted in the research.
The report is titled "Options for service delivery in the Greater Vancouver region: A discussion paper of the issues surrounding the regionalization of police services."
The report, which can be found at curtgriffiths.com under the heading "articles", doesn't take a final position on the concept or break down the cost of such a change but spends many of the 58 pages outlining problems with the current policing structure. The report concludes: "Providing the best possible policing service in the interests of public safety must be the overarching driver for future discussions."
At a press conference Dec. 18, Chu acknowledged the model of policing in the Lower Mainland isn't the preferred option but said "political leaders" should decide a move to a regional force.
Chu's comments were in response to commissioner Wally Oppal's final report of the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry. Creating a regional force was one of Oppal's key recommendations.
His rationale was based on a number of findings in the inquiry, including the "systemic failings" of the VPD and RCMP to establish a joint forces operation to capture serial killer Robert Pickton, who was eventually charged with murdering 26 women.
"A significant lack of communication between sections within the VPD and the RCMP caused compartmentalized thinking and a lack of flow of ideas, knowledge and strategies," Oppal wrote.
The recommendation for a regional force has renewed the debate over its value. Mayor Gregor Robertson, for example, supports the concept while Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts and Delta Mayor Lois Jackson worry about losing local control over their police forces.
Premier Christy Clark and NDP leader Adrian Dix both weighed in on the topic recently in radio interviews on CBC radio.
Neither would commit to revamping the Lower Mainland's policing structure, saying instead it was important to continue discussing Oppal's recommendation.
Rich Coleman, the B.C. government's housing minister, was solicitor general in December 2010 when he told the Courier that a regional police force wasn't necessary. He pointed to the many integrated police teams, including homicide and organized crime squads, that already exist in the Lower Mainland.
At the time, Coleman was reacting to news of a shooting at an Oak Street restaurant, near Robertson's house, that left 10 people with gunshot wounds.
"People say it would be an easy thing to solve gang violence if we had a regional police force - nope, that's not how you do it," said Coleman, a former RCMP officer. "You target it with intelligence-based policing."
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