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Police Amalgamation


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#1 biffle

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Posted 28 October 2006 - 11:06 AM

Police Amalgamation is long over due. If all the municipalities mergered we would increase a greater Fire Force, Police Force and a sharing of vital information in times of emergency or Vicious crimes. The problem is all of the separate mayors and councils prefer to remain independent costing all of the taxpayers more money.

#2 stargazer

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Posted 28 October 2006 - 02:39 PM

I couldn't agree more. This would be a nice first small step towards more integration. It maybe not necessary (and impossible given strong opposition) to do a full amalgamation, but there are things that one could start with, and where there is a clear direct benefit

#3 TheVisionary

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Posted 03 November 2006 - 01:09 AM

Absolutely! Sometimes it takes smaller steps in order to eventually reach the end goals. Gradually increase the dosage of metro amalgamtion until one day when they all feel it and get use to it. If you wait long enough, the old school thinkers who are set in their ways will gradually drop off. The younger adventures have more time and can outlast them.

#4 Rorschach

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Posted 14 November 2006 - 10:26 AM

What I would like to see is for the Times Colonist to publish high-quality maps of the jurisdictional boundaries that delineate all the various police and fire jurisdictions. Within those boundaries, they should publish the direct police, fire, and ambulance telephone numbers for people to call.

Using 9-1-1 on a cell phone will not automatically get you to the right agency in the shortest time. There was a letter in the TC last Saturday that was quite poignant on this subject.

Cell phones are such a great personal safety device and if people had the direct numbers programmed into their phones, it could make a difference since amalgamation is in the far distant future, if ever.

Having the correct direct telephone number on a regular telephone speed dial button will help too because you don't have to tell your story over and over as the operator tries to figure out where you are and what kind of help you need -- if they even know what the correct jurisdiction is -- which they often don't.

Having a nice little color map insert in the newspaper with all the boundaries and phone numbers not only illustrates the problem of so many jurisdictions, it will be providing a great public service.

For all I know, this has already been done by someone, somewhere. The police and fire dispatchers probably have such reference material because you can be sure they are not going to send resources out of the jurisdiction and know exactly what address is in what area.

Maybe there is an address database that can be put online? Type in an address and you get a response telling you who handles your police service, fire service and ambulance service and the proper telephone number to call?

Seems to me I can't possibly be the first person to think of this stuff and how to best make it available.

#5 Holden West

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Posted 14 November 2006 - 11:35 AM

That's an excellent idea. Often cell phone calls to 911 placed along the Victoria waterfront are answered in Port Angeles, WA.!
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#6 gumgum

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Posted 14 November 2006 - 12:12 PM

My cell phone bill's plagued with Port Angeles roaming charges every month, and I just go to Dallas rd to walk the dog.

#7 Holden West

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Posted 14 November 2006 - 12:25 PM

^Oh, burn! How much does that cost?
"Beaver, ahoy!""The bridge is like a magnet, attracting both pedestrians and over 30,000 vehicles daily who enjoy the views of Victoria's harbour. The skyline may change, but "Big Blue" as some call it, will always be there."
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#8 gumgum

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Posted 14 November 2006 - 12:54 PM

Can't remember. It's just a pain in the butt more than anything. I call my service provider and they correct it without question.

#9 Rorschach

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Posted 14 November 2006 - 03:26 PM

It costs about .90 a minute. It's because the cell towers in Port Angeles broadcast at higher power and have a clear straight shot over the water at most of Victoria. The transmission power of Canadian cellular carriers are regulated, i.e., they transmit at lower power.

For cellular service to even work when there are more users than channels, it's essential that the strongest signal completely cancels out a weaker signal without cross-channel interference which is why this stuff happens -- it's part of the magical technical design of cellular telephone service.

#10 Holden West

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Posted 22 November 2006 - 11:54 AM

Oak Bay's police are the best at policing Oak Bay

Times Colonist editorial
Saturday November 18

Victoria's mayor-in-a-hard-hat, Alan Lowe, is trying to build Metro, using public safety as the foundation. He gobbled up the police services in Esquimalt in 2002 while the province held the municipal noses. Now he's set his sights on such surrounding shires as Oak Bay, Saanich, Central Saanich and who knows where else.

He and Esquimalt Mayor Chris Clement have asked Solicitor General John Les to set up a task force to see whether local police forces should combine major policing functions or amalgamate.

What's to study? We've heard all the arguments about too many cops doing separately what they could do better together, the absurdity of so many departments clustered at this end of the Island, the cost of high-tech policing tools that smaller municipalities can't afford.

We've heard individual officers -- to the embarrassment and annoyance of their bosses -- say they'd like to be able to police all the elements of the community of Greater Victoria in which their kids go to school, in which their wives may work or go to yoga class and in which a lot of them live -- for there's not, so far, a residential requirement for police officers.

And many would appreciate the professional experience and chances for advancement that integration might offer and amalgamation certainly would.

Lowe and Clement say they'll live with whatever the task force recommends. Big deal: What matters is what sacrifices the other chiefs and their mayors -- who usually preside over local police boards -- are able to make.

This is supposed to be all about policing. It's also about politics. It's probably not a coincidence that when Lowe went looking for an acting city manager he settled on his own chief constable, Paul Battershill.

Now Battershill is not affected by Shakespeare's vaulting ambition. When his men and women busted up the camp on the legislative lawn a few years back, he didn't ride in on a horse at their head, but stood in the shadows to make sure it went well, which it did. He doesn't drive around in a limousine and often rides a bike, at considerable risk to himself.

Yet those other chiefs who don't seem to make the newspapers so much must wonder whether he assumes he'll emerge as Supercop at the end of any task-force study. That would be a blow not only to the other chiefs but to outlying municipal pride as well.

Oak Bay's cops, whom I kept getting in trouble with as a teenager, might not have been particularly lovable, but they were ours. When they rousted us from Willows Beach on Friday nights and poured out our beer it was a bit of a bummer, but I never had any urge to throw rocks or smash a bottle over one of their skulls.

And when they came upon us on the Gonzales Hill lookout in our parents' cars with steamed-up windows, they rapped politely before wrenching open the doors and shining their flashlights on our innocent dishevelment. Saanich police were just as courteous when they found us parked on Mount Tolmie.

That was before proscribed substances became popular. But even with drug-crazed gangs of kids reportedly prowling our streets, police in our municipalities seem to me just as kind, compassionate and understanding. I'm told by students that some of those who visit our schools are "hot."

Isn't it more likely that our village constabulary knows who needs nabbing and who could benefit from a warning? Isn't it more likely that when we call because we're frightened or concerned, cops who know the neighbourhood well can make us feel better?

And isn't it possible for them to call for reinforcements or help from bigger forces, like Victoria's or RCMP division headquarters in Vancouver, when necessary?

A lot of police departments have got on pretty well with one another. Victoria and Esquimalt police worked together before amalgamation on wannabe street gangs, and we haven't heard much about them lately.

Oak Bay and Saanich have a natural affinity -- which might have something to do with mistrust of Victoria -- and their police co- operate in several areas. And there seems to have been some success with sharing dog and marine-rescue units among all forces when necessary.

The CREST radio system, though, has been a costly scandal. Victoria might be able to afford that mistake, but it's not likely to give other municipalities an incentive for other joint ventures. And we all know that if there's Victoria-dominated amalgamation, there'll be parking meters everywhere.

A most unpleasant regional traffic unit is zooming through our neighbourhoods and clapping 87-year-old Oak Bay drivers in handcuffs for not wearing a seat belt.

We're not used to that Broderick Crawford-Highway Patrol treatment: When we forget to buckle up, the local constabulary tells us to, politely, and asks about the garden.

By all means let us share our policing toys. But leave us in Oak Bay with cops to guide our kids growing up and keep our neighbourhoods safe.

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Smaller police forces better? Not necessarily


Carolyn Heiman
Times Colonist

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

I don't lightly choose to go keyboard-to-keyboard against one of the TC's most eloquent writers, but here goes.

This weekend, Times Colonist columnist Iain Hunter railed against police amalgamation and defended Oak Bay's sleepy little police force. I too live in Oak Bay, but I believe the opposite is best for the municipality and region.

Hunter rolls out a "back-in-day" argument for small police forces. It's the kind of argument that feeds our desire for what was, allowing us to sidestep what is and what could be. It strays into what's called "truthiness" -- something that sounds like common sense but isn't.

Once our minds are nestled back in the good old days, soothing as hot cocoa, Hunter gives us the one-two fear punch: The prospect of trading a quaint and polite constabulary for a goon force if we go bigger.

Then comes the niggling doubt -- the suggestion of less than altruistic motives from those campaigning for amalgamation. It's about politics, we're told. Bingo: Keeping small police forces seems a no-brainer.

Politics is a factor in the policing discussion. But suggesting that Saanich Mayor Frank Leonard and Oak Bay Mayor Chris Causton are any less political than Victoria's Mayor Alan Lowe ignores the fact that they are all seasoned politicians. They're well-versed in the keep-it-simple approach when it comes to arguments for issues they think are on the re-election radar.

Similarly, Hunter suggests that Police Chief Paul Battershill's incentive for supporting amalgamation is about empire-building. But isn't it just as likely that Oak Bay Police Chief Ben Andersen and Saanich Police Chief Derek Egan might oppose amalgamation out of fear for their own jobs? After all, do we need three police chiefs who cost a total of more than $412,000 annually to cover 206,000 residents?

Is smaller always better? Are police officers who want to excel drawn to small forces? If not, where does that leave small forces in terms of recruiting? Are we getting better value for our tax dollar? Would we really lose beat cops in an amalgamated force?

Dispatching police officers in Saanich and Oak Bay already takes place out of one locale. What are the chances of delays arising from boundary confusion? A recent letter to the editor recounted an assault in progress in Central Saanich. The debate about what jurisdiction the cellphone caller was in outlasted the assault.

In short, do smaller forces really keep us safer or do they just make us think we are safer?

Would the botched investigation surrounding Hannah Madgen's tragic hit-and-run on Oak Bay Avenue in 2003 have had a different outcome in a larger police force?

My neighbour was robbed at gunpoint in front of my house. The case was never solved by Oak Bay police.

Thankfully murders, robberies and other serious crimes are rare in Oak Bay. But they are no less deserving of the highest standards of investigation.

This month, the B.C. Progress Board termed the fractured nature of policing in the Victoria region as "bizarre" and despite integration efforts, rivalries and tensions among police departments continue.

Identifying local governments as the stumbling block, the board -- made up of senior people in the business and academic fields -- called on the province to create regional police services, including one covering the capital region.

Alas, I fear much of this is academic. Solicitor General John Les has yet to show any appetite for forcing amalgamation on the squabbling mayors and their troops.

All of this brings to mind a variation on an old joke making its rounds again: How many CRD politicians does it take to change a light bulb?

Answer: None. They prefer no change.

Carolyn Heiman writes a column Wednesday in the Times Colonist.

mailto:cheiman@tc.canwest.com
© Times Colonist (Victoria) 2006
"Beaver, ahoy!""The bridge is like a magnet, attracting both pedestrians and over 30,000 vehicles daily who enjoy the views of Victoria's harbour. The skyline may change, but "Big Blue" as some call it, will always be there."
-City of Victoria website, 2009

#11 G-Man

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Posted 22 November 2006 - 12:06 PM

Hey where did that joke come from?

Great article by Carolyn Heiman. Also would we not still be keeping a "precint" sp? like we have with Esquimalt? I think it just makes sense. Especially having Oak Bay and Saanich as one. Hopefully the taskforce will see it the same way.

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#12 Ms. B. Havin

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Posted 22 November 2006 - 12:11 PM

At the same time, the Nov.22 edition of Victoria News reports that Minister Les indeed has no "appetite" for forcing police amalgamation, and that he is instead praising the baby steps of integration. See [url=http://www.vicnews.com/portals-code/list.cgi?paper=36&cat=23&id=776411&more=:80222]Minister praises integration effort[/url:80222].

The integration efforts between the two municipalities drew Les's praise.

"I applaud the co-operative approach that's being implemented by Saanich and Oak Bay. I think that's all for the better," he said.

He echoed the comments of Saanich Mayor Frank Leonard, who described the agreement as one where Oak Bay retains its local, cop-on-the-beat presence while gaining access to the specialized skills of a larger force.

"It puts a mechanism in place when higher level of police expertise are available," said Les. "I want to see more of that."

Integration of forces helps deal with cross-border crime issues and allows more to be done with available forces.

"We know that integration works, that it produces results and that it keeps communities safe."

In other words, just as Heiman wrote in her article. No new light from old bulbs, I guess...
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#13 Caramia

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Posted 22 November 2006 - 06:08 PM

You stop a junky or mentally ill person on the street and ask where they grew up, statistically speaking, if they are from this City, they are they are going to name a municipality other than Victoria. And yet they are most likely to be found within Victoria's jurisdiction. Hey, they may even tell you they got a ride down here in a Saanich police car in a practice called "Drop and Go." The first article seems to assume that Victoria, the "big" police department has more money than its quaint little neighbours. The reverse is true. Victoria police are by far the most burdened, struggling under ever increasing case loads, and competing with other municipalities for new blood. And why would someone choose to work for Victoria when they can make the same amount doing less work and dealing with less insane or addicted people in another municipality?

I don't know if I support amalgamation or not, honestly, I don't know enough about the issue to speak on it one way or another. But what I do support is each police force taking a fair share of the region's problems. If the municipalities want to keep their seperate police forces, they should also look to keeping their share of shelters, and services. And then maybe policemen should be paid by caseload and type of crime. If an Oak Bay policeman makes a the same amount as a Victoria policeman for doing a third of the work, most of which is emptying cans of booze from teenaged parties, or breaking up steamy windowed scenes, while the Victoria cop is doing more work and his work is dealing with psychotic meth dealers, mentally ill homeless people ODing in alleyways, and violent crime, then something needs to change. Whatever the answer is, we need to find it, because the status quo is rediculous.
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#14 VicHockeyFan

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Posted 22 November 2006 - 06:12 PM

You stop a junky or mentally ill person on the street and ask where they grew up, statistically speaking, if they are from this City, they are they are going to name a municipality other than Victoria. And yet they are most likely to be found within Victoria's jurisdiction. Hey, they may even tell you they got a ride down here in a Saanich police car in a practice called "Drop and Go." The first article seems to assume that Victoria, the "big" police department has more money than its quaint little neighbours. The reverse is true. Victoria police are by far the most burdened, struggling under ever increasing case loads, and competing with other municipalities for new blood. And why would someone choose to work for Victoria when they can make the same amount doing less work and dealing with less insane or addicted people in another municipality?

I don't know if I support amalgamation or not, honestly, I don't know enough about the issue to speak on it one way or another. But what I do support is each police force taking a fair share of the region's problems. If the municipalities want to keep their seperate police forces, they should also look to keeping their share of shelters, and services. And then maybe policemen should be paid by caseload and type of crime. If an Oak Bay policeman makes a the same amount as a Victoria policeman for doing a third of the work, most of which is emptying cans of booze from teenaged parties, or breaking up steamy windowed scenes, while the Victoria cop is doing more work and his work is dealing with psychotic meth dealers, mentally ill homeless people ODing in alleyways, and violent crime, then something needs to change. Whatever the answer is, we need to find it, because the status quo is rediculous.


Agreed.
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#15 aastra

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Posted 22 November 2006 - 06:18 PM

No worries. All of those more serious problems will eventually make their way into Oak Bay, at which time the cops there will have more than enough work to do.

...the absurdity of so many departments clustered at this end of the Island...


I always choke when people suggest Victoria is a region rather than a real city. In terms of land area it's the smallest CMA in the country, yet it has a population of ~350,000. Those police departments aren't clustered "at this end of the island", they're clustered inside Greater Victoria.

It's supremely silly to suppose that Oak Bay cops treat Oak Bay folks right, because they share some common Oak Bay bond. It's also supremely silly to suggest that Victoria cops would go rough on those worms in Oak Bay or Saanich, because Victoria cops lack that essential Oak Bay-ness/Saanich-ness.

#16 VicHockeyFan

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Posted 22 November 2006 - 06:26 PM

No worries. All of those more serious problems will eventually make their way into Oak Bay, at which time the cops there will have more than enough work to do.

...the absurdity of so many departments clustered at this end of the Island...


I always choke when people suggest Victoria is a region rather than a real city. In terms of land area it's the smallest CMA in the country, yet it has a population of ~350,000. Those police departments aren't clustered "at this end of the island", they're clustered inside Greater Victoria.

It's supremely silly to suppose that Oak Bay cops treat Oak Bay folks right, because they share some common Oak Bay bond. It's also supremely silly to suggest that Victoria cops would go rough on those worms in Oak Bay or Saanich, because Victoria cops lack that essential Oak Bay-ness/Saanich-ness.


Exactly. I wonder how many OB cops live in OB. I'd guess only some of the oldest ones.
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#17 aastra

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Posted 22 November 2006 - 06:26 PM

Oak Bay and Saanich have a natural affinity -- which might have something to do with mistrust of Victoria...


Remind me, where does this mistrust come from?

Are we suggesting people in Oak Bay/Saanich are naive bumpkins compared to the city slickers downtown?

#18 G-Man

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Posted 22 November 2006 - 07:46 PM

If Oak Bay Police became the Oak Bay Precint of Victoria Police than couldn't they perhaps just deal with a bit on this side of the Victoria border. Property Crime etc... I mean no matter what it will be the headquarters station that is dealing with the most serious crime

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#19 Ms. B. Havin

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Posted 22 November 2006 - 08:18 PM

@ Caramia and @ aastra: I completely agree with you.

On a related note, and pardon me if this is going off on a tangent: the new Macleans Magazine has some business articles that we should all read (not online, at least not yet/not now). There are a couple of articles about a report, soon to be out, called "Mission Possible," which addresses Canada's dwindling economic position and why we're slipping so fast (we might soon get kicked off the G8, because Spain's economy is almost bigger than ours, and Spain is openly saying that we shouldn't be on it anymore). Anyway, the second article deals with cities -- lists Canada's top 10 cities, which includes the likes of Regina, Saskatoon, and Halifax, but not, of course Victoria. Halifax is amalgamated, right?, which is why its population is 359K? So Victoria doesn't qualify because its population is 75K. The point of the article was how urban centres are financed: Canadians pay along the lines of 52% of their tax to the Feds, 40% to the Province they live in, and the other 8% goes to the municipalities. This is a 19th c. model of urbanity -- from a time when everything was all about agriculture & resource exploitation in Canada, and little was about cities. Cities get this paltry amount of tax money to fund everything from taking care of social problems to dealing with decaying infrastructure, and if they want help, they have to go begging hat in hand to the Feds or the Province.

So what happens when a municipality like Victoria shows up, with the problems of a 350K region, but with a representational "clout" of only 75K? And then add to that the fracturing within Victoria, with police forces in the municipalities within the municipalities that protect "turf." It's maddening. I completely agree with Carolyn Heiman's argument in her article, and ditto Caramia and others. This status quo is totally ridiculous.
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#20 Ms. B. Havin

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Posted 22 November 2006 - 08:21 PM

Re. "Mission Possible" -- there's a PDF available here[/url:78fa0], which also notes that the Nov. issue of Macleans has more, and that in Jan. 2007 you can go to [url="http://www.conferenceboard.ca"]http://www.conferenceboard.ca and download (free) the report (3 vols.) and an executive summary.
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