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Replace RCMP with provincial police, say Greens

The Green Party of B.C. announced today that if elected it would create a provincial police force to replace the RCMP in British Columbia.

"The RCMP have demonstrated they are not accountable to the public, operate outside of civilian oversight, and cannot self-assess complaints," stated party leader Jane Sterk in a press release. "The deaths of Ian Bush and Robert Dziekanski are examples of recent failures to provide helpful enforcement services to the people of BC."

The creation of a regional police force in Metro Vancouver has been touted by Mayor Gregor Robertson and others, including former West Vancouver police chief Kash Heed, who announced his candidacy for the B.C. Liberal Party last week.

In February, the Georgia Straight's Charlie Smith opined that Heed's entrance into provincial politics could have a "cataclysmic" impact on policing in the region, and said a regional police force could only happen if the province does not renew the RCMP contract, which expires in 2012.

Given the potential of a Metro Vancouver regional police force, plans to construct an $80 million RCMP headquarters in Surrey are "disappointing," said Jodie Emery, Green Party candidate for Vancouver-Fraserview.

She said two advantages to a provincial police force would be a reduced cost (although the party does not have a budget estimate for a new force) and more control over policing priorities. The plan would include provisions for a civilian oversight body as well, said Emery.

"If B.C. wanted to pursue a more lenient drug policy, which is part of the Green Party platform...we would have huge cuts in the budget for that sort of law enforcement. We would redirect that money towards murders, kidnappings...and other crimes like identify theft," said Emery.

Colleen Kimmett reports for The Hook.

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