Mayor Sullivan and VPD Chief Jim Chu release FCM report on municipal policing costs

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) released a national report on federal policing. It concludes that municipal property taxpayers in Canada are subsidizing federal law enforcement activities to the tune of more than $500 million/year.

Towards Equity and Efficiency in Policing (pdf) shows municipalities have seen their share of RCMP contract policing costs rise dramatically over the last 20 years – while municipal police forces have had to take on more traditional federal enforcement roles. In Vancouver this means requirements associated with:

  • port policing
  • 2010 preparations & Olympic Security
  • international drug trade
  • cyber crime
  • human trafficking
  • non-returnable warrants (Con Air)

The $500 million estimate is the value the FCM places on the amount of time municipal police officers spend enforcing federal laws or mandates – based on the $5 billion spent by municipal governments on police services each year.

(The federal government assumes municipally contracted RCMP officers spend 10-30% of their time enforcing federal laws – and they provide compensation accordingly. It follows that municipal police officers would also be expected to spend between 10-30% of their time also enforcing federal laws.)

The report makes two recommendations:

  • special panel to review the existing distribution of policing functions
  • $507 million annual compensation to municipal governments to pay for the additional police services they must provide – pending this review

In British Columbia, this would represent an annual federal contribution of over $34 million to municipal police forces – with more than half ($18.9 million) coming to Vancouver. Saanich would receive over $2.1 million/year under this plan.

Towards Equity and Efficiency in Policing compliments the landmark study released earlier this year by the Vancouver Police Department that document the increased amount of municipal police resources that were being invested to help people with mental illness on our streets. It is being released at the FCM’s annual national convention taking place this week in Quebec City.

In addition to participating in the national announcement, Mayor Sullivan renewed his call for the provincial government to ensure the $55 million the federal government recently announced for new police officers in BC is transferred to municipal governments for what it was originally intended for – more police on the beat.

Other facts in the report include:

  • municipalities paid nearly 57% of Canada’s $9.9 billion policing costs in 2006
  • municipalities directly employ 35,952 officers, representing 56% of Canada’s total officer strength – at 100% cost to municipalities
  • 77% of Canadians live in communities served by municipal stand-alone police (15% in communities served by RCMP-contract & 6.5% in communities with a provincial force)