Robertson has big hill to climb on regional police force

Post by Daniel Fontaine in

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Mayor will likely not succeed in getting a regional police force, but he'll get lots of good press trying

Let me first say that I am pleased that Mayor Gregor Robertson is continuing a long-standing Vancouver tradition of supporting a regional police force in Metro Vancouver. It's not the whole solution in helping to eliminate gang violence on our streets, but it's a step in the right direction.

Unfortunately, what he and his staff will find out rather quickly is that Vancouver is a lone voice on this issue. There is not a single suburban Mayor who is going to come out in favour of regional policing - full stop. Why? Because it's political suicide on the home front.

Consider this. In Delta, their police motto is "no call too small." That slogan arguably reflects the views of many suburban residents who will fight tooth and nail to retain the luxury of being able to summon the cops, regardless of how trivial their issue might be. It's commonly believed that regional policing would put a big dent in that level of service. Hence the reason Mayors outside Vancouver are so opposed.

If I could give Robertson some advice, I'd say raise the issue in the public, but don't go too hard. If you appear too obstinate and simply fighting for a regional police force to make a few additional headlines, you will be further resented by your mayoral colleagues.

Speaking of headlines, I watched the news a couple of nights ago where Robertson rushed to the latest scene of a gang shooting proclaiming the urgent need for a regional police force. The whole Rudy Giuliani-esque photo-op looked at bit forced, and fell flat. That's because everyone knows Robertson didn't run on a law and order platform. He was all but silent on the issue of a regional police before the recent gang shootouts. Remember, despite all the shootings on his streets, the Mayor's top issue remains homelessness, not using the Vancouver Police Department to attack biker gangs.

It is worth noting if the previous Mayor had attempted to wheel up to an active crime scene and demand action on regional policing, the ususal suspects would have gone berserk. Sullivan would have been pilloried as an "opportunist" and a "media hound". With Robertson now in power, those same folks now report this type of photo op as "showing leadership" and "taking action." Interesting indeed how the tides have turned.

Robertson's insistence on pushing for a regional police force has already raised the ire of her worships in both Delta and Surrey. Both Mayor Watts and Jackson have gone to the media stating that Robertson has it all wrong, and the current integrated police model works just fine, thank you very much.

Their concern stems from the belief that if a new regional police force were to be implemented in Metro Vancouver, a lot of resources currently situated in their communities would be sucked into the urban core of Vancouver. Clearly this wouldn't sit well with their local voters.

So kudos to Robertson for standing up to all the Metro mayors, but I doubt his drive to create a new regional police force will go anywhere. I base that on the fact that Mayor Owen, Mayor Campbell and Mayor Sullivan all unsuccessfully fought for a regional police force as well. In any event, I wish him all the best of luck.

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