Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Community groups back police amalgamation

Another interesting article - though this only coming from groups in the city of Victoria and not from Oak Bay or Saanich where it needs to come from

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Victoria News
Community groups back police amalgamation

By Keith Vass - Victoria News

Published: July 15, 2008 10:00 AM

Victoria’s 11 neighbourhood associations are putting their support behind regional police amalgamation in the form of a letter to be sent to B.C. Solicitor General John Van Dongen.

The idea came up after an annual meeting between neighbourhood association leaders and the Victoria Police Board this spring.

John Weaver, a member of the Rockland Neighbourhood Association, volunteered to write a first draft, which was amended after being circulated once among the associations. A revised version should be sent to Van Dongen’s office this week after the final two signatures are received.

“We are paying police for a region of 350,000 where most of the crime is committed in the downtown area,” said Weaver.

“And as a result we pay more taxes and yet we don’t get the community policing as somewhere like Oak Bay gets, where they can rescue your cat from a tree and deal with a beach party.”

Downtown Residents’ Association chairman Robert Randall said the issue goes beyond making more officers available for downtown duty.

“I think the cheap solution is just more cops on the beat,” he said.

“I think if we really want to get a hold of some of these issues that are troubling us it’s more sophisticated than that, looking at things like undercover cops. I’m hearing they’re so much more efficient at getting criminals off the street than a beat cop is.”

Backing the letter’s principles wasn’t even a question for the Victoria West Community Association, when president JoAnn Youmans presented it at a recent meeting. The association endorsed signing it without any debate.

“There was some discussion around whether it would actually matter in the scheme of things whether this went forward, who’s going to listen to the community associations,” said Youmans.

James Bay Neighbourhood Association chairman Tim Van Alstine said he signed the letter before even taking it to a JBNA meeting, already convinced it reflected members’ beliefs.

Van Alstine wasn’t sure what effect the letter would have, but said the tax burden being carried by city residents is unsustainable and Victoria officers are facing mounting stress.

“It’s just another effort. Hopefully the Solicitor General will take up the courage to say (amalgamation) can happen.”

kvass@vicnews.com
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