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  (this post will be continued when other examples of integration)

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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  • Harold McNeill

    April 14, 2020 |

    Hi Rick,
    Great to hear from you and trust all is going well. Our family members are all doing well but it must be pretty tough for a lot of people. I had once heard you were going to do some writing but never heard anything further. I would be most interested, but do you think the OB News have archives back to that time. Any link or information you could provide would be greatly appreciated. Did you keep copies? Regards, Harold

  • Rick Gonder

    April 14, 2020 |

    Hi Harold
    About 22 years ago I spent several weeks going through the OBPD archives. I wrote several stories that were published in the OB News. Feel free to use if they are of value to what you are doing.
    Keep this up, I’m enjoying it and it brings back memories.

  • Harold McNeill

    April 12, 2020 |

    Hi Susan,

    Glad you had a chance to read. I decided to update these stories by proofreading as there were several grammatical errors in many. Hopefully, many of those glaring errors have been removed.

    Many of the stories carry a considerable amount of social comment regarding the way the criminal justice system is selectively applied. Next up involves a young woman from near Cold Lake, Alberta, who was abducted by an older male from Edmonton. Her story is the story of hundreds of young men and woman who have found themselves alone and without help when being prayed upon unscrupulous predators.

    Cheers, Harold

  • Susan

    April 8, 2020 |

    Great read, Harold!…and really not surprising, sad as that may sound.
    Keep the stories coming, it is fascinating to hear them.
    Love from us out here in the “sticks”, and stay safe from this unknown predator called Covid.

  • Harold McNeill

    February 17, 2020 |

    Update:  Times Colonist, February 16, 2020, articles by Louise Dickson, She got her gun back, then she killed herself,” and,  Mounties decision to return gun to PTSD victim haunts her brother. 

    Summary: I don’t know how many read the above articles, but they contained the tragic details about young woman, Krista Carle’, who took her own life after suffering for years with PTSD. While tragedies such as this play out across Canada every week, the reason this story resonates so profoundly is that the final, tragic, conclusion took place here in Victoria. Continued in the article.

  • McNeill Life Stories Index to Police Notebook - McNeill Life Stories

    February 16, 2020 |

    […] Part I, Police solidarity and the push for amalgamation. Part II, Comparing police cultures and implementing change Part III, The past as a guide to the future Part IV The integration of police services […]

  • Harold McNeill

    February 15, 2020 |

    Testing the comments section after changes made. Updated: February 10, 2020

    Further to the update below (February 1, 2020), I note that since the government announced a “No-Fault” insurance plan for BC, Robert Mulligan is taking a slightly different tack, suggesting that no-fault will only increase the problems by taking away the right of an injured party to sue.

    I’ve copied just one sentence from Mulligan’s longer discussion, “And I think people don’t like the idea that somebody who’s, for example, was drunk and ran into you and you become a quadriplegic is going to be treated exactly the same way you would in terms of getting benefits (go to minute 00:15:26 to see his full comment)

    Statements like this appear to be simple fear-mongering. As was the case in the past, people who commit criminal offences, as well as other forms of negligence while driving, may well lose their insurance coverage and in all likelihood would be sued by ICBC to recover costs of the claim. (Link here to Mulligan’s full conversation on CFAX radio)

  • McNeill Life Stories Index to Police Notebook - McNeill Life Stories

    January 5, 2020 |

    […] 28. The past as a guide to the future (Part III): Over the past 60 years, many activities the police once performed as a natural part of their daily duty, eventually became incompatible with achieving their basic goals. What happened? (August 2019) […]

  • McNeill Life Stories Why I stand with science? - McNeill Life Stories

    November 11, 2019 |

    […] During the Ice Age, the Earth’s average temperature was about 12 degrees Fahrenheit colder than it is today. That was enough to keep snow from melting during the summers in northern regions. As snow fell on the snow, glaciers formed. (NASA Earth Observatory) […]

  • 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) […]