Langley Township will take a serious look at separating its RCMP detachment from the shared force that has overseen both City and Township for decades.
“Enhancing public safety is my priority as a councillor,” said Councillor Barb Martens, who put forward a motion requesting a report Monday, Dec. 5 on the potential costs of separating the Langley RCMP into two separate detachments.
“This is no contemplation of the ‘Langley Police Service,’” Martens emphasized. The plan is that the RCMP remains in place policing the Township, unlike in Surrey, where the previous mayor, Doug McCallum, established a municipal force.
Martens said that local police resources are increasingly stretched with a growing population and more complex investigations. A separate detachment could result in faster responses and policing tailored to Township priorities, she said.
“Crime and disorder know no boundaries, but that is no reason to avoid separation,” said Martens.
The council unanimously approved the motion, which does not commit the Township to separating its detachment, but is a first look at the potential costs and procedures.
“I think the public needs a say in this,” said Coun. Kim Richter.
“I think that’s something that I would like to see as well,” said Mayor Eric Woodward.
The Township’s sometimes contentious history with the City over policing costs was referenced by long-serving Coun. Steve Ferguson.
“I remember… that the Township of Langley RCMP building was in portables at one time, because we could not agree on where we would place an RCMP detachment building,” Ferguson said.
There was a lengthy debate on whether the building should be in the City or Township, he noted.
“Fortunately cooler heads prevailed and we eventually constructed the building where it is in Murrayville,” said Ferguson.
The discussion on possibly separating the detachments is timely, said Coun. Margaret Kunst.
“We have two new mayors, we have two new councils, so it’s probably timely to have this conversation with the City,” she said.
With the City preparing for the arrival of a SkyTrain terminus in their downtown, “they’re clearly going to have to have another look at what policing looks like for them,” she said.
The mayors and councils of the Township and City are meeting Wednesday, Dec. 7 for a dinner. Woodward said he and newly elected City Mayor Nathan Pachal organized the event to improve relationships between the two councils, but the event does not have a formal agenda.
On Tuesday, the City posted a notice online about the Township’s vote.
“Both the City and Township have benefitted, financially and operationally, from the joint detachment for almost three decades and we have valued the partnership which has provided efficient and effective police services between the two communities over the years,” said Langley City Mayor Nathan Pachal. “However, the City respects the right of the Township to undertake this review and we will work collaboratively to offer our perspective and contribute to this report in the upcoming months.”
If the Township does separate its RCMP detachment from the City’s, there is a recent, local precedent to consider. Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge are separating their shared RCMP detachment, with Pitt Meadows building a new detachment.
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