Langley Township moves to create its own RCMP force, separate from Langley City

May 11 2023, 3:23 am

The substantially larger jurisdiction of the Township of Langley — in terms of both population and land area — has made a decision to breakaway from the small jurisdiction of the City of Langley for policing services.

Both municipal governments currently share the Langley RCMP detachment, but the Township suggests it has been unfairly subsidizing the cost of improving the force. According to the Township, since 2009, it has funded 33 new police officers and has plans to add 10 new officers over the next four years, while the City has only funded one additional officer.

The Township has a population of about 140,000 residents within a land area of 316 sq km, while the City has a population of about 29,000 and a land area of 10 sq km.

For this reason, the Township of Langley Council made a decision this week to begin the process of dissolving the Langley RCMP so that the Township and City each have their own separate RCMP detachments, allowing the Township to meet the needs of its large and fast-growing jurisdiction.

“We’ve heard loud and clear from residents that they want to see improved policing in the Township of Langley,” said Langley Township Mayor Eric Woodward in a statement.

“We are investing in public safety and the City of Langley is not. 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.”

According to the Township, it is one of the largest municipalities in the province without a police force exclusively serving its residents. They also assert the 2028 opening of the SkyTrain Expo Line extension reaching the city centre of the City of Langley will exacerbate their current concerns with policing.

metro vancouver

Map of Metro Vancouver’s municipalities, with Langley City and Langley Township depicted on the bottom right. (Metro Vancouver Regional District)

In response to the Township of Langley’s decision, the City of Langley says the existing joint Langley RCMP detachment has “successfully served both communities,” and warns the dissolution of the detachment to create two new separate forces is a long and expensive process.

“The City was not consulted nor provided with any detailed financial analysis that supports the claim that the City is not paying for our fair share,” said City of Langley Mayor Nathan Pachal, claiming the Township “never approached the City to initiate discussion on changing the funding agreement.”

According to the City, based on a 2007 agreement that is renewed every five years, the funding formula for Langley RCMP is based on the number of RCMP members assigned to each municipality, with 75% based on criminal code cases and 25% based on population growth. New members would be added if there are more than 90 criminal cases per officer or more than 700 people per officer.

The City states it has one police officer for every 558 residents, which is well above the minimal optimal ratio of one-to-700. Langley RCMP currently has a total workforce of 210 officers.

In 2018, the City covered the cost of 51.54 officers and the contract strength was 51.35 officers, while the Township funded 127.48 officers and the contract strength was 139.65 officers. The City suggests that since then, it has paid for a consistent number officers and the Township paid less, with 2022 figures showing the City covered 51.9 officers on a contract strength of 51.35 officers and the Township covered 121.44 officers on a contract strength of 158.65 officers. In 2022, the City paid the Township a sum of $1.5 million to offset differences.

The City argues that while the Township has increased the allowable number of new officers by 33 since 2009, those positions are vacant due to sick leave, transfers, maternity/paternity leaves, and the inability to secure new recruits. There are about 1,500 RCMP officer position vacancies across BC. In 2022, the Langley RCMP’s real workforce hovered at an average of 173 RCMP officers.

Pachal asserts the Township’s decision will make policing in both jurisdictions more complex, and argues that their counterparts have dismissed the benefit of a shared RCMP force.

It was also highlighted that both Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge are now in their sixth year in the process of splitting the Ridge Meadows RCMP detachment.

Although the Township has kicked off the dissolution process, the provincial government has the final authority over the structure of any municipal government’s policing services, as seen with the ongoing back-and-forth with the City of Surrey’s recent desire to unwind its transition from the Surrey RCMP to the municipally-governed Surrey Police Services.

Late last month, the provincial government announced its “strong recommendation” to Surrey’s new political leadership to retain Surrey Police Services.

In April 2022, a final report by the provincial government’s Special Committee on Reforming the Police Act recommended amalgamating police services on a regional basis “to address fragmentation and ensure equitable access to police and public safety services, including highly technical or specialized services.”

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