West Vancouver Police Department chief constable Peter Lepine wants to clear the air about where he stands on the issue of regional policing.
Lepine was on the line with the Straight today (January 18) after this week’s paper quoted SFU criminologist Rob Gordon suggesting Lepine is likely to oppose any move to create a single police force for West Vancouver, the City of North Vancouver, and the District of North Vancouver.
Lepine stated that the decision to create a regional police service is a decision that rests with politicians.
“If the politicians decide that that’s where they are going, then I’ll be happy to lead the way,” Lepine said.
However, the former RCMP officer also noted that the establishment of a regional police force, either for the whole of Metro Vancouver or the North Shore alone, is not needed.
“From an operational perspective, it’s not necessary,” Lepine said.
Asked to explain, he went on: “Because of the way we do business in today’s environment. Particularly since 2009 and I’m looking at this from a Metro-wide [perspective]...whenever we’ve been faced with issues that have transcended community boundaries, it takes but one phone call from one police chief to get the 12 police chiefs and [RCMP] municipal detachment commanders into a room to say, ‘Here’s the problem we need to tackle and how are we going to do this?’”
According to Lepine, this model works well.
He cited as one example the cooperation between the various police forces during the 2011 Stanley Cup riot in Vancouver.
Lepine stressed that it’s not really the form of policing that matters.
“It takes leadership,” he said. “There’s a whole pile of things that are in there.”
Lepine also cautioned: “We can have a regional police force and still not get the job done.”
The creation of a Metro regional police was a key recommendation in the report made by Wally Oppal following his inquiry into how the police and the justice system handled the cases of the missing women who were killed by Robert William Pickton.
However, Lepine noted that a lot of things have changed in recent years.
The City of North Vancouver and District of North Vancouver are waiting for a consultant’s report on their options if they decide to ditch the RCMP contract.
One option may be to put up a local police force on the North Shore, and that could include the District of West Vancouver.
Lepine stressed that if the West Vancouver council decides to go for it, the politicians can count on him.
“If that’s where my council goes, then I’ll be writing the program and doing the transition plan,” the chief constable said. “That’s just the way it is.”