Police Chief Jim Chu refused to say Tuesday whether the Lower Mainland would be better served under a regional police force to prevent another serial killer like Robert Pickton from preying on women.
But Chu pointed out that Vancouver and Victoria are the only major police departments in Canada that don't belong to regional forces.
"If we were to design the ideal policing structure for the greater Vancouver region, I don't think we would design what we have now," Chu told reporters at the Cambie Street police station.
Vancouver is surrounded by a hodgepodge of RCMP and municipal detachments, including Delta, New Westminster and West Vancouver.
Creating a regional police force was one of the major recommendations listed in the final report of the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry, which was released Monday.
The report, titled Forsaken, noted one of the "critical police failures" in the missing women investigations between 1997 and 2002 was the failure to address cross-jurisdictional issues and the ineffective coordination between police forces and agencies.
The Vancouver Police Department authored a report on regional policing in 2008 but didn't take a final position on whether such a force would be beneficial.
As the report does, Chu deferred to government and "political leaders" for a decision, picking up on inquiry commissioner Wally Oppal's remarks to reporters Monday that mayors needed to lead the campaign for a regional force.
Mayor Gregor Robertson, who doubles as chairperson of the Vancouver Police Board, favours a regional force. Justice Minister Shirley Bond wouldn't commit Monday to creating a regional force but stated the B.C. government will take a hard look at the concept.
Though Oppal was critical in his report of the VPD and the RCMP, he acknowledged both agencies made fundamental changes in policies and how officers respond to missing person cases.
Deputy Chief Doug LePard, who authored the VPD's own report in 2010 on the missing and murdered women investigation, noted the success of the department's missing person unit and the "dramatic change" in how officers respond to reports of a missing marginalized person.
"Recognizing the fact that they are marginalized makes them at very high risk for violence," LePard told reporters. "So we treat that with a very high priority."
Const. Rick Lavallee, who is Metis and works out of the aboriginal policing centre on East Hastings, and Const. Linda Malcolm, who is the department's liaison officer to sex trade workers, joined LePard and Chu at the press conference
Their presence appeared to be a response to Oppal's recommendations that more work had to be done by police to establish better relationships with the aboriginal community and sex trade workers.
"The relationship between police and sex trade workers is generally marked by distrust," Oppal wrote in his report. "Many aboriginal women, in particular, distrust the police based on the historical antagonistic relationship between aboriginal peoples and authorities and more recent unsatisfactory contact between the two."
Port Coquitlam pig farmer Robert Pickton was arrested in 2002 and charged with killing 26 women, the majority of whom were aboriginal and from the Downtown Eastside.
He went to trial on six of the murders, was convicted and is now serving a life sentence, with no eligibility for parole for 25 years.
At Tuesday's press conference, Chu again apologized for his department's mistakes in the Pickton case, saying "we are very sorry" to the families and friends of the missing and murdered women.
"We could have and should have caught [Pickton] earlier," he said. "We made many mistakes. There were failures. We're sorry we made those mistakes."
On Monday, the government appointed former lieutenant governor Steven Point to head up an advisory committee to ensure Oppal's 63 recommendations are implemented with input from family of the missing and murdered woman.
The WISH drop-in centre for sex trade workers in the Downtown Eastside will also receive $750,000 to expand its operating hours.
The government has not committed to hiring additional full-time sex trade liaison officers in the Lower Mainland. A compensation fund for the children of the missing and murdered women, and a healing fund for the families was also recommended in Oppal's report.