High-ranking RCMP officers have told Langley Township council the municipality is actually paying less to participate in the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) than it did five years ago.
As well, the cost of Langley participating in the other regional policing teams in the Lower Mainland only rose a modest amount during the same period, they said.
A delegation of senior Mounties came to the Monday (Nov. 18) meeting with a video presentation to back their claim.
While the overall cost of operating IHIT has risen from $13 million to $16 million over the last five years, an increase of 25 per cent, the RCMP numbers show the share Langley pays has actually dropped from $637,585 to $609,893, a decrease of 4.34 per cent.
Langley pays less to belong to the regional homicide team because it has had fewer homicides, the officers said.
Add in all the other Lower Mainland police teams Langley pays into, such as the Emergency Response Team (ERT), the Integrated Collision Analysis and Reconstruction Service (ICARS), Forensic Identification Services (FIS) and the police dog service, the total bill to local taxpayers increased from about $1.7 million to $1.8 million, up 9.19 per cent or an average of 1.77 per cent more per year.
RCMP Supt. Norm Gaumont said a budget review is underway to trim expenses from the regional teams wherever possible.
“We did go back and tell everybody we need to revisit the way we do business,” Gaumont said.
He said steps have already been taken to find savings, ranging from revised overtime policies to getting officers to sign up for B.C. provincial health coverage to avoid out-of-province charges that increased RCMP medical expenses by $12 million.
There are currently 68 officers working in IHIT, up from 48 five years ago.
The unit handles all murder investigations in the Metro Vancouver area except Vancouver, Delta and West Vancouver, which operate their own independent homicide teams.
Eighteen of those officers are directly funded by the provincial government, said RCMP Chief Supt. Brian Cantera.
As part of its cost-reduction strategy, IHIT will have individual municipalities pay the full cost of the first 72 hours of a murder investigation.
Cantera called it a “user-pay” approach.
The RCMP presentation to council comes after controversy recently erupted over the cost of the new 20-year policing contract between the province and the federal police force, a deal that is expected to increase costs by hundreds of thousands of dollars for communities with larger detachments.
Some Metro cities with RCMP detachments, like Richmond, are considering pulling out of the RCMP and launching their own municipal forces.
A big issue is the added levies cities are being expected to pay to cover the newly opened $1-billion RCMP ‘E’ Division headquarters at Green Timbers in Surrey.
RCMP-policed cities have reportedly been told to budget $1,200 for each officer in their detachment and $20,000 for every local officer who serves on an integrated team.
— with files from Jeff Nagel