Skip to content

RCMP report breaks down City-Township split

Policing border between City, Township identified as a concern
A Langley RCMP officer at an evening check stop.

Separating Langley's RCMP detachment into two separate forces could create safety issues for residents and police officers, according to an internal report provided to City and Township.

Written by E Division, the headquarters of the B.C. RCMP forces, the report does not make any recommendations for or against de-integrating the Langley RCMP detachment.

Langley Township council has voted to separate the two detachments, with an eye to reducing the cost of its policing. Although much smaller, Langley City has a higher crime rate and a higher rate of calls for police assistance.

The report details the existing RCMP and civilian staff needed for the combined detachment, the share paid by each community at the present, and makes some attempts to estimate how many new officers, staff, and facilities would be needed in the event of a split.

It puts forward three options:

• Continuing with a shared detachment, with a new policing agreement between the City and Township

• Two detachments, with some shared services

• Two fully autonomous detachments

The report raises a possible issue with the third option, noting it means a fully separate operations communications centre (OCC) for each community.

"The separation of OCC could pose operational, police safety, and public safety issues due to the nature of the City and Township's boundary," the report says. "A further study of the nature of the risks associated to not maintaining a joint OCC is recommended if complete separation is considered."

For the fully autonomous and shared service options, the report said there would be some difficulty keeping City and Township police options separate, especially given the nature of the border between the two communities, which runs through relatively dense areas of residential and commercial neighbourhoods. The border between City and Township runs through the Willowbrook Shopping Centre, for example.

"There cannot be a reliance on routine mutual assistance to cover calls for service between the City and Township, which will be challenged by the nature of frontline police culture (to aid regardless of jurisdiction) especially considering the nature of the City and Township's boundary," the report said, raising this issue under the shared services and fully autonomous options.

While police can and do respond across municipal boundaries, calls for aid from other detachments are supposed to take place when the local police are dealing with incidents that exceed their capacity to handle on their own.

The OCC safety issue raised is "one of the key concerns," for Langley City, said Mayor Nathan Pachal. The City is opposing the Township's desire to de-integrate the detachment.

Pachal noted that with the Langleys sharing a single regional commercial centre, one concern about splitting up plainclothes investigation units is reducing their ability to work on crime in the retail core.

"That's less people available to do these complicated investigations that cross jurisdictions," Pachal said.

Township Mayor Eric Woodward said the issue was something to review and consider further as part of the de-integration planning.

"I consider this a routine item, as it would be with any border between any two or more municipalities," Woodward said. "There are housing areas that are adjacent to the City of Surrey as well, and I have never heard of any operational concerns."

Matthew Claxton

About the Author: Matthew Claxton

Raised in Langley, as a journalist today I focus on local politics, crime and homelessness.
Read more