Ever since the B.C. Provincial Police was disbanded in 1950, Summerland and many other communities in the province have had an RCMP presence.
Now, as the province and the federal government are in the process of negotiating a new agreement, there is a chance that British Columbia could lose the Mounties.
The fact that a provincial police force is even being considered as a replacement for the RCMP should be cause for concern.
While a policing contract between the province and the RCMP will not come cheaply, a provincial police force would also have a high price tag.
The Mounties in British Columbia have 6,000 officers in more than 60 communities. A new force would need at least the same staffing presence.
The RCMP have the structures and mechanisms in place to provide policing throughout the province.
If British Columbia took on the role of creating a provincial police force, the task would prove expensive and complex.
Put simply, it is easier to continue with the RCMP than to build out a new force.
This is not to say the RCMP — or any police for that matter — is without flaws.
Some concerns have been raised in recent years following the Robert Dziekanski tasering incident, the mass murder investigation of Robert Picton and other complaints.
Still, working with the Mounties and addressing concerns as they arise will prove to be a much simpler process than creating a replacement force.
In the future, the time could come for British Columbia to consider its own police force, but if that day arrives, it should be in order to best meet the province’s unique needs.
As a tool in the present contract negotiations, the option of creating a provincial police force seems unwise.