Should the Vancouver Police Department oversee UBC's Point Grey campus?

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If there's ever a fire on UBC's Point Grey campus, someone can call Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services.

Firefighters will be dispatched from Vancouver Fire Hall No. 10, which is on the campus at 2992 Wesbrook Mall.

And if these firefighters need more support, they can call on assistance from their colleagues at Fire Hall No. 19. It isn't far away at 4396 West 12th Avenue in Vancouver.

But if there are reports of sexual assaults on the Point Grey campus, it's not quite so seamless. It's not the Vancouver Police Department's jurisdiction.

That's because the Mounties police the University Endowment Lands. Pacific Spirit Park and Wreck Beach are under the jurisdiction of Metro Vancouver.

It explains why beach users encounter the RCMP enforcing Metro Vancouver's rules on when to vacate the area.

Anyone who has read investigative journalist Paul Palango's three books on the RCMP knows that the force faces some monumental problems.

Veteran Mounties don't want to live in expensive areas. That's why municipalities like Burnaby, North Vancouver, and Richmond end up with a disproportionate share of Mounties with little experience. Older officers prefer to live and work where they can afford to buy a home, like Maple Ridge or Mission.

When a serious crime occurs, such as the 2009 murder of jogger Wendy Ladner-Beaudry, the Mounties aren't always up to the task. As the fifth anniversary of that crime approaches, there's no sign that this dastardly killing in Pacific Spirit Park is any closer to being solved.

Meanwhile, the Air India bombing investigation was bungled for a generation in part because back in the 1980s, RCMP officers couldn't get along with members of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. This was chronicled by several journalists.

I can't comment on the Mounties' recent inability to find a man who may have perpetrated six assaults on the Point Grey campus since April. 

And to be fair, perhaps the VPD's sexual-assault wouldn't have been able to crack the case either, had these crimes occurred within its jurisdiction. But at least the VPD is big enough to have a sexual-assault squad, with officers who've had extensive training in this area.

Mayors in Richmond, North Vancouver, and Burnaby have traditionally preferred having the Mounties police their cities because it's cheaper to contract the RCMP than create a municipal force. But Palango has pointed out that contract policing comes at a cost. Sometimes, municipalities pay for services even though officers might be seconded to other work.

Is it time to re-evaluate UBC's police force?

With UBC's residential population growing, campus dwellers might ask if they want to continue being policed by the Mounties.

Has the time come for UBC to grow up as a community and petition the City of Vancouver to come under the aegis of the Vancouver police?

It might come at a slightly higher cost to the university and local residents. But that's a small price in comparison to the climate of fear that exists out there now.

Notwithstanding the bungled investigation into the missing women in the Downtown Eastside and the shooting of mentally ill animator Paul Boyd on Granville Street, the VPD has developed a very good reputation in recent years.

There's a reason why Chief Jim Chu was elected president of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police. He has the respect of his peers.

Under the leadership of Chu and some capable deputy chiefs, the department policed the city with aplomb during the 2010 Olympics. The VPD has pioneered effective crowd-control methods, which stood in stark contrast to the Toronto police force's dismal handling of the G20 summit.

Vancouver police came under criticism for the Stanley Cup riot, but they actually deserve credit for avoiding any deaths. They directed rioters toward transit stations where the hooligans could leave the city.

The real cause of the riot was the city's decision to allow massive crowds to gather downtown. It was done because Vision Vancouver politicians and their allies in the senior bureaucracy wanted to increase alcohol sales by bars and restaurants. There's not much the police could have done about that.

The VPD has also changed its approach in dealing with the sex trade and promoted more positive community interactions in the Downtown Eastside. Sure, it still comes under criticism from time to time, but it's nothing like the old days.

That's because the VPD often polices as much with its brains as with its brawn.

The RCMP has never been as progressive. The proof is in its continued zeal for advancing the war on drugs, its archaic approach to crowd control, and the chronic complaints of sexism by current and former female officers.

The tasering of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski at the Vancouver airport in 2007 brought the Mounties into disrepute across the country.

One of Palango's books cites a policing expert who says he doesn't want to live in a jurisdiction overseen by the Mounties.

If the sexual assaults aren't solved soon on the Point Grey campus, female students might start echoing a similar sentiment about attending university in a jurisdiction policed by the RCMP.

The university community deserves an honest airing of the pros and cons of keeping the Mounties on campus.

UBC president Stephen Toope has not shied away from public discussion on other controversial topics. As his term winds down, he could leave a lasting positive legacy by beginning a conversation on this topic.

Comments (8) Add New Comment
re: Oct 30 article
I wonder if UBC retaining separate municipal status plays any role. I know they have the RCMP instead of the VPD, but it's still up to the university if it wants to save money / keep property taxes down, by keeping police spending down.

How does UBC compare to other jurisdictions, like another isolated campus of SFU or another of similar population like Surrey?

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i suppose anything more than the usual 4 RCMP members on duty is a start.

why don't they send a couple of young-looking female members out to walk around in civilian clothing?

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I wonder if this is the same person that is responsible for the murder of Wendy Ladner-Beaudry, who was murdered four years before the first incident listed here?
Also, where are the extra staff coming from?

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UEL residents pay the Rural Property Tax. That is set and administered by the province, not the University. The UEL falls under the jurisdiction of the RCMP because it is considered provincial land. As with taxes, policing levels are determined by the province, not the University. The University only sets the UBC Service Levy which provides the UNA with its operating budget. It cannot reduce property taxes by cutting the policing budget as neither of those are under its control.
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ACMESalesRep
“The real cause of the riot was the city's decision to allow massive crowds to gather downtown. It was done because Vision Vancouver politicians and their allies in the senior bureaucracy wanted to increase alcohol sales by bars and restaurants.”

And yet massive crowds have gathered downtown for other events without degenerating into violence. Funny thing, that.
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derp
RCMP have Integrated Homicide Investigation Team which solves plenty of murders it's not just 4 cops going it alone there. Unfortunately the VPD have a history of busting international students for extremely petty crimes like smoking weed or minor underage drinking, and forcing them to be deported that could be one reason why the RCMP are at UBC, could also be costs.
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Agreed
The VPD would solve this. They have knowledgeable well organized detectives that are more intelligent and persevering, and more compassionate, than many people give the police credit for being.
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Raveen
IN RESPONSE TO THIS COMMENT: PLEASE SEE BELOW
Veteran Mounties don't want to live in expensive areas. That's why municipalities like Burnaby, North Vancouver, and Richmond end up with a disproportionate share of Mounties with little experience. Older officers prefer to live and work where they can afford to buy a home, like Maple Ridge or Mission.

This comment is the most unintelligent comment I have seen for quiet some time. The RCMP has been delegated to such cities based on a needed basis for policing and not the officers' personal decisions. Please educate yourself Mr Charlie Smith and I suggest you get your facts straight and inquire with the RCMP before you make such a fool of yourself for writing this comment

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Betty Crocker
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Charlie Smith
Dear Betty Crocker,
Touché. Good point. Anyone wondering about the comment above would be wise to click the YouTube link.

Charlie Smith
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Claudia Ferris
I have a daughter attending UBC and am glad we can't afford to have her on residence with this going on. I hope the policing authorities get on this quicker than they did Picton....
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