For as long as I can remember, the RCMP have provided policing services to the City and District of North Vancouver.
When I was a teenager, I had more than my fair share of encounters with the law, mostly in relation to automobile operations. When I look back upon the things we did, and the things we got away with, it makes me shudder to think how we got through it all alive. I am also certain that in today’s world, those things could never again happen.
What stands out for me most however is the style and professionalism with which the RCMP officers of the day attacked the problem of cajoling and enticing better behavior from North Vancouver youths when heading astray.
In my case, the officers effectively abducted me, dragged me out to West Wood Race Track, and got me involved in auto racing in a legal and safe manner. Once they had me hooked on the track, they had the Race Steward remind me that on arrival each weekend, I would undergo a motor vehicle license inspection, and if I could not produce a valid driver’s license, I would not be allowed to run my race cars. I was, at the time, on the cusp of losing my license for the 4th time in only two years, and the message was clear: “…when you’re walking on eggs, don’t hop…”. I didn’t get another speeding ticket for years.
I have told this story many times over the years because of the skilled manner in which the police brought me back from the brink of what could have been the wrong route. The life course correction they caused with style and finesse is simply beyond the imagination when looking at the current officer pool. Back in the day, they thought outside the box, and they earned the respect of both the youths and their parents alike.
Today’s RCMP are awash in scandal. Whether it be from tazering deaths, gun battles, sexual harassment or DUI’s, the force appears less and less like the days of old, and more and more out of touch with community expectations. I have personally witnessed police cars driving past my home in a quiet neighbourhood at speeds which are in excess of 80 and 90 kilometers an hour. This happens quite often. On one mid-day occasion, I witnessed two separate police cars pass east bound on 15th Street at Williams, doing nearly 100 kilometers per hour. They passed between four kids skateboarding in the road-way, one of which was my son Dylan. The police cars never even slowed. I witnessed the entire event with my own eyes. When I phoned the detachment to complain, the watch officer told me the cars had been dispatched to a domestic incident, and that he had no way to determine which officers were operating those vehicles, so nothing could be done. I told him “poppy-cock”. They could have killed my son and the three other boys with him at the time.
I have sought out opinions on the effectiveness of the current community policing initiatives and model. I have received multiple opinions from both past and present RCMP members that the North Shore model, as it is currently being applied today, is not working. Nor is the service we receive cost appropriate for our community.
I have secured a commitment from a retired RCMP regional superintendent ,whom I respect, to work with me to assemble a “blue-ribbon” advisory team of retired and well respected members of the force. This is to help analyze the current service delivery model being applied to the North Shore’s RCMP detachment, and to provide input on “best-practices” for the purpose of designing a better, higher quality, and more cost effective policing model for our community. A service model that down-loads in-house RCMP sexual offenders from other provincial jurisdictions, and raises concerns that should our daughter(s) choose to pursue a career as an RCMP officer, they can expect to endure all manner of sexual harassment and intimidation, is simply not acceptable to me.
While I acknowledge that it is grossly unfair, the fact is that people who wish a career as a police officer, applying and enforcing the law, are held to a higher standard of conduct, and for those officers, breaching the laws that others must adhere to is not acceptable conduct.
Policing is the single largest budget item for the City of North Vancouver. Given that this line-item uses so much of our annual budget, I believe residents are entitled to receive the best possible service for our community.
I cannot claim to know how best to resolve the issues of community policing, but I have faith that the best and brightest of the forces retired management will be able to help guide me in this analysis, and as that help has been pledged. I intend to use these resources to make whatever changes may be possible in the circumstances. In this regard I will also pursue dialogue with both North Shore Districts to ensure that whatever the changes proposed might be, they will provide a cost effective integrated service model for policing across the entire North Shore region. To achieve this outcome I will leave no stone unturned, including where deemed prudent, the examination of a North Shore wide policing solution, common to all three local municipalities.