Changing the way police do business (Part IV)

Written by Harold McNeill on August 15th, 2019. Posted in Amalgamation Posts, Police Notebook, Editorials


Your police forces work cooperatively to provide the best service possible.  Locally, across the nation, and around the world integration is the best model to follow in terms of bringing together the disparate parts of policing in common purpose.

Introduction to Series

Part I. Police solidarity and the push for amalgamation
Part II, Comparing differing police cultures
Part III, The past as a guide to the future

Link to CBC Podcast: Policing in the CRD

Part IV: Integration vs Amalgamation

1.  Introduction

By the time you’ve reached this part, and assuming you read the first three parts, you may understand why amalgamating police forces is likely the biggest mistake that could be made in terms of addressing modern-day policing challenges in the Capital Region. While amalgamation seems intuitively reasonable, those who promote the idea do not take into account the powerful forces at play even in organizations as similar as the police agencies within the Captial Region.

Take the banking system as an example. Would anyone think it reasonable to merge banks into one as serving the best interests of the people in Greater Victoria? In terms of function, the police are no different than a bank, in that they perform an essential public service within an ever-expanding circle from local to national and international.

To function at their best, each constituent part must work at integrating their system into the whole, one that maximizes not only their ability to solve internal challenges but, at the same time, expanding their ability to work together in common purpose. That is were integration outpaces amalgamation.

Even a partial merger, say that of Victoria and Saanich, would be immensely difficult and extremely damaging to both forces. While VicPD may gain an increase in staffing levels, as they did in with Esquimalt merger, the underlying issues facing VicPD could very well be exacerbated. You might simply have a larger force with the same problems. In side-discussions with persons whose opinions I trust, I rather think that has happened in areas where moderate and large scale amalgamations have taken place.

The beautiful thing about integration is that it allows each police agency to maintain an individual identity, while at the same time fully participating and cooperating as a part of the whole.

Across the Capital Region, throughout B.C., and across Canada, integration has become the modern, forward-looking way of bringing disparate police forces, as well as other emergency service providers and community groups, together in common purpose. By doing this, no one group dominates the whole.

The contrary happens with amalgamation. First, you amalgamate, then you must try to divide the whole into equitable parts. That is what the former Victoria Chief Constable (Jamie Graham) proposed with his “Four District” plan as outlined in Part II of this series (Section 6).  The likely outcome? Only one culture would survive and that particular culture may not be the best.  Perhaps, many discerned that in the VicPD/Esquimalt merger as expressed in this article in the Victoria News on March 13, 2019: Local powers say a regionalized police force needed for Greater Victoria: VicPD, Victoria, Esquimalt, and Grumpy Taxpayer$ argue for police amalgamation

This part of the series will explore the nature of integration in the Captial Region and how that integration is changing the face of policing as it was often practiced through much of the last century.  It is a form of police merger the selects best practices and expands them to the entire region on a voluntary basis.  For those who choose to withdraw and go it alone, it’s at their peril.

2. The Methods of Integration

The balance of this article is still being written and will be completed within a week to ten days.  Part of the reason for the delay is awaiting input from both internal and external police sources.

As a beginning, please take a few moments to consider the following aspects of integration that have already taken place within the Capital Region. These headings are copied from Oak Bay Police documents, a police agency that has fully involved its members in the integration project.  Go to the site link for a more complete explanation of each of the following items.

Police Integration in the Captial Region

Integrated Units

  • RDVU–Regional Domestic Violence Unit
  • MYST – Mobile Youth Services Team
  • IMCRT–Integrated MobileCrisis Response Team
  • GVPDAC – Greater Victoria Police Diversity Advisory Committee
  • VIIMCU–Vancouver Island Integrated Major Crimes Unit
  • CFSEU–Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit
  • IRSU–Integrated Road Safety Unit
  • Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers
  • E-INSET–Integrated National Security Enforcement Team
  • E-Comm–Consolidated Dispatch
  • GVERT–Greater Victoria Emergency Response Team
  • CMU–Crowd Management Unit
  • ITCU–Integrated Tech Crimes Unit
  • SPD/OBPD shared services agreement
  • OBPD Detective working out of Saanich Detective Office (2-year trial)
  • Sharing of recruit scoring/polygraph
  • POPAT Testing
  • Mutual aid when needed
  • Routine cooperation among agencies

The Organizational Structure

  • Regional Joint Management Team (Deputy Chiefs) reporting to Area Police Chiefs
  • Overall strategic oversight of the integrated units
  • Each unit has an individual JMT (Joint Management Team) and/or unit supervisor
  • Day-to-day operations are overseen by unit supervisors and/or JMT

Operations/Oversight

  • Annual budgets/reports are prepared and forwarded to RJMT (Regional JMT)
  • RJMT assesses budgets, activities and looks for any needed changes
  • Area Chiefs approve provisional budgets and changes
  • Final approval by Police Board(s) prior to presentation to Councils

Participation Criteria

  • Ongoing discussions around possibilities in a variety of areas
  • Each agency must assess the value of participation using a wide range of metrics – depending on service need
  • Consideration of:
    • Crime Trends
    • Identified gaps in service
    • Resource efficiency
    • Organizational risk

Participation Considerations

  • Overall value for investment is the main consideration – Is participation meeting need
  • Can accomplish more collectively than individually
  • Consideration of Provincial Policing Standards

Participation: Opt-in / Opt-out

  • All parties engage in discussions
  • Only participating agencies have the right to vote
  • Minimum commitment of 3 years to units
  • Notice of one full budget year required to opt-out
  • Decision with Police Chiefs with input from Police Boards
  • Board approval for new resources

Funding Sources

  • Standardized funding formulas have been established:
    • Units involving the RCMP:
    • 1/4 each of strength, population, assessment, and file count
    • Units not involving the RCMP:
    • 1/3 each of strength, population, and assessment

Continuation in Progress  (finalized by August 25)

The balance of this article will focus on additional ways and means of integrating services as follows from the experience of other agencies across BC and Canada.

Given the VicPD joint force apparently faces several pressing problems, special attention will be given to those challenges, and how others might help to relieve the pressure.  Coincidently, many of the challenges are not all that different from those experienced in many other urban and suburban areas across Canada.

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Comments

  • McNeill Life Stories How to Game an Election - McNeill Life Stories

    September 18, 2019 |

    […] The Federal Conservatives and Seymour Riding Association complied but one day later those memes will be shared by every third party social media site and by thousands of supporters where the message will be taken as a statements of the fact.  Five years from now those memes will still be circulating. (Link here to background on the SNC Lavalin matter) […]

  • Harold McNeill

    August 21, 2019 |

    For those who followed the earlier post about the cost of ICBC Auto insurance coverage in British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba (linked in comments) here is another follow-up article.

    This article again confirms earlier assertions that public-private insurers such as that which ICBC provides, is among the best in Canada in terms of rates and coverage. A link is provided in the original story.

  • Harold McNeill

    August 16, 2019 |

    Many thanks for reviewing the article Elizabeth. There are so many areas of our society in which populism carries the day, although I think what is happening with the ICBC is that groups having a vested interest in private insurance would dearly love to dislodge ICBC from their preferred position. That being said, I think was a good move to have only portions of the insurance coverage in BC being held by ICBC and other portions being made available through private enterprise.

  • Elizabeth Mary McInnes, CAIB

    August 15, 2019 |

    It’s a breath of fresh air to see a resident of British Columbia look to review all the facts over believing what is reported in the news or just following along with the negative stigma of the masses. Your article truly showcases that with a little reform to ICBC’s provincial system – British Columbia could be a true leader for other provinces in Canada. Very well written article!

  • Harold McNeill

    August 13, 2019 |

    August 13, 2019. The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), a private enterprise group not unlike the Fraser Institute, is again on the campaign trail. They state ICBC rates are the highest in Canada, but, thankfully, Global BC inserted a section indicating the Insurance Bureau cherry-picked the highest number in BC and the lowest numbers in AB, ON and other Eastern Provinces. If you take a few minutes to check reliable sources you will find BC rates, are the lowest in Canada.

  • Andrew Dunn

    May 14, 2019 |

    Thank you so much for all your help thus far Harold, aka. Tractor guy! I could not have done without you!

  • Harold McNeill

    April 25, 2019 |

    I find it interesting to contemplate how a small community evolves in general isolation from the rest of the world. We have a similar situation in the northern communities in Canada to which access is limited. The inclusion of the world wide web and mass media has changed things, but these communities are still left pretty much to their own devices when it comes to personal interaction.

  • Harold McNeill

    March 19, 2019 |

    Hi Dave. Not that I am aware and I have a fairly comprehensive family tree for the McNeill side of the family. I will pull it up and scan. Cheers, Harold. Great chatting with you and I will give Ben a nudge.

  • Dave Cassels

    March 16, 2019 |

    Were you related to Guy McNeill who owned the Bruin Inn in St. Albert in the late 40’s or early 50’s? Guy was a close friend of my father-in-law who was the first President of the Royal Glenora Club. My phone number is 780 940 1175. Thank you.

  • Harold McNeill

    March 15, 2019 |

    So glad you found the story and enjoyed. Indeed, they were memorable times. I did a fair amount of searching but never managed to contact any of the Murffit kids. However, it was neat to make contact with the Colony and someone I knew from back in the day. I have enjoyed writing these stories from back in the 1940s and 50s and have made contact with a lot of friends from those early years. I will give you a call over the weekend. Cheers, Harold