Langley Township council has voted to de-integrate from the shared RCMP detachment that has covered both Langleys since the mid-1950s.
The in-camera vote held in April, being announced officially Wednesday morning, will create two standalone RCMP detachments. One for the City, one for the Township.
The Township is not considering a municipal force, and plans to stick with the RCMP for its policing services.
“We are investing in public safety and the City of Langley is not,” Township Mayor Eric Woodward said in a statement. “It is not fair to Township of Langley residents and taxpayers to have to subsidize policing in another municipality. We need to make a change.”
The mayor said the process will take place in two stages.
This week, the Township will announce it is withdrawing from its cost-sharing agreement with Langley City, under which the two communities share the RCMP detachment building in Murrayville. The contract includes a provision to end that agreement on 24 months notice, which the Township will deliver.
The other side is getting approval from the provincial government for the de-integration into two separate detachments.
Woodward said the process should actually be somewhat easier than similar splits in RCMP detachments, such as the one underway in Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge.
The Township, with a population approaching about 150,000 people, shares its forced with the City, which has about 29,000 people.
Although the RCMP detachment is shared, each municipality independently decides how many new RCMP positions it will fund in each year’s budget.
That has been a sticking point for the Township for some time, which has added more officers multiple times over the past few years.
Meanwhile, the City has added fewer officers. Last year, after meeting with Supt. Adrian Marsden, the officer in charge of the shared Langley detachment, the City made a non-binding agreement to fund six more RCMP officers.
This year’s budget, however, kept the number of RCMP officers the same as it has been for the past several years, at 54.5 officers funded. The Township funds more than 158 officers.
“The Langley RCMP are tasked with policing a large geographical area with varying and competing priorities,” said Councillor Barb Martens, a former VPD officer. “Deintegration of police services will result in faster police response, policing tailored to the Township of Langley and a prioritizing of our needs. Enhancing public safety is a key priority of this council.”
Officers respond to calls throughout all of Langley, and because of the City’s urban nature, it has tended to draw more calls for service per capita than the Township.
Asked whether the City could do anything to change the Township council’s mind, Woodward said anything was possible.
“Any decision can be revisited,” he said.
But it feels like it’s “a bit late to the game,” he said, for the City to build up its share of the RCMP detachment.
The Township council made its decision based on years of decision making that have led to this point, he said.
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