City, Township plan to add police

There could be three new Mounties in Langley in 2016.

Langley City probably will be putting up the funding for another local RCMP officer this year.

The preliminary annual budget for the City includes hiring one Mountie, said Mayor Ted Schaffer.

“We tentatively said yes to an officer,” Schaffer said.

The budget is still in the draft stages right now, however, and Schaffer didn’t want to comment on exactly what council is considering when it comes to any tax rate increases.

He said the council is trying to keep any tax increase low.

The budget is expected to be finalized on Jan. 6 this year.

Aside from an RCMP officer, improvements to roads and parks are contemplated, and the City will have to fund more staff for the expanded Timms Community Centre, now nearing completion.

There is also an increase in the City’s policing budget regardless, thanks to cost increases handed down from the national force, which should amount to about $350,000 for the City, Schaffer said.

On top of that, the cost of DNA testing is being downloaded to cities thanks to a change in a federal-provincial deal to fund a Vancouver-based lab.

The costs are expected to amount to about $80,000 for Langley Township and Schaffer said it could be around $5,000 for the City.

Langley Township is looking at hiring two new RCMP officers next year.

Township Councillor Angie Quaale had raised concerns at a recent Township budget meeting about whether or not the City was doing its part for the joint force.

While the Langley RCMP serves both Langleys and is funded by both governments, each municipality can choose to hire new officers.

Arguments about policing costs have erupted numerous times since the City split from the rest of Langley in the 1950s.

With more than four times the population of the City, the Township has always taken on more of the policing costs. But crime rates are higher in the denser, more urbanized City.

The City has been working on bringing down crime rates after a few high-profile assaults over the last year.

Supt. Murray Power has noted recently that the area most in need of more officers is Willoughby in Langley Township, simply because its population is growing so rapidly.