Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Police in Moncton

Letter to the Editor, Times & Transcript
(We'll see if it ever gets published)
(Update: As of March 23, it is still unpublished)

Moncton is a hub city and draws people from around the region for shopping, events and medical services. Thus its policing costs are higher on a per capita basis. This is part of what it costs to be a hub, and if you cut back that cost, you threaten Moncton's role as a regional service centre.

This is just one of the facts completely overlooked in the Times & Transcript's misguided campaign against the existing RCMP service in the community. Another fact overlooked is value for money.

Yes, you can hire fewer officers, and pay them less money. This is what other cities in the region like Saint John and Halifax do. But you pay for such shortsightedness. According to Statistics Canada, Halifax has about 50 percent more crime than Moncton, and Saint John has 60 percent more. The differences are even greater when we look at violent crime, with Saint John almost twice the rate of Moncton.

The news coverage also misrepresents how many police serve in the Moncton region. Though we are told Moncton has too many officers, Statistics Canada reports that, at 115 officers per 100,000 population, the Moncton region has the lowest coverage of any metro area in Canada between 100,000 and 500,000 in population. That's significantly less than the 177 officers that were employed by the city and town police forces at much greater cost before the RCMP took over.

And where are we going to get savings? As noted in the article, "In 2008, Moncton residents paid $269 per capita for Codiac, while Frederictonians paid $210 and Saint Johners paid $272." If we consider that we're not getting a police subsidy, and if you consider that RCMP officers are higher paid, the Codiac RCMP service looks like an incredible bargain.

You know, people are quick to forget what Moncton was like before the RCMP. Ask around, and you'll hear stories about organized crime. Recall, according to the city's own web site, that the "1970s were marked by the unprecedented level of crime in Moncton. Two policemen were murdered, people were kidnapped, and there were even gang-style assassinations." Is this what we want to return to? As late as the 1990s, organized crime had a foothold in the city and the City police force was in such bad shape the province had to intervene.

The only people who would benefit from the elimination of the RCMP in Moncton are the criminals. This newspaper is playing a very dangerous game with the lives and livlihoods of Moncton citizens when it advocates for an end to quality policing in the city. Citizens should take a very hard look at the statistics and the recommendations from the Perivale Taylor report. They argue that the current RCMP is the best and most efficient option available.

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