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"Profound cultural differences" between VPD and RCMP, senior VPD officers tells missing women forum

BY NEAL HALL, VANCOUVER SUN  MAY 8, 2012

VANCOUVER - There are profound cultural differences between the Vancouver police and the RCMP, VPD Insp. Brad Desmarais told a Missing Women inquiry policy forum today.

He said the cultural differences are at the management level and at the street level.

The VPD tends to be more nimble and quick to respond to emerging crime issues, and the RCMP is more process oriented, said Desmarais, a former Mountie who now heads the VPD major crime section.

He said the VPD has a deep pool of resources to draw from quickly to react to a crime problem that needs to be dealt with "right now."

"That's not to say we can't cooperate," Desmarais told inquiry Commissioner Wally Oppal.

"The integration of a number of investigations over the years have turned out quite well," he added.

RCMP Chief Supt. Janice Armstrong disagreed with Desmarais, telling the policy forum that the RCMP also has a deep pool of talent to draw from to react to crime problems.

She pointed out that there are 6,500 Mounties in B.C. - about one-third of all the RCMP in Canada - who police 99 per cent of the province.

Such integrated police units as the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team are working well, she said.

Kim Rossmo, a former VPD officer who now is a criminologist teaching at a Texas university, said Metro Vancouver is patchwork of police forces that cause jurisdictional confusion when investigating serial crimes that cross municipal boundaries.

He suggested a standardization of major case management systems to allow forces to share and compare data.

Rossmo suggested the Police Act needs to be changed to formalize cooperation and allow municipal police forces to have access to all databases, "so we don't have the kind of finger pointing that we've seen in the past."

Rob Gordon, head of the criminology school at Simon Fraser University, and Mike Webster, a police psychologist, both suggested there needs to a regional police force.

It is easier to keep the "culture and competition" between the RCMP and municipal police forces in check "if everyone wears the same uniform, plays for the same coach, uses the same play book, is supported by the same association and is governed by the same collective agreement," Webster said.

"It's time to let the patient go - he's dead," he said, adding there is a need to create a "functional system of policing in the Lower Mainland."

The focus of the forum was "Inter-jurisdictional Collaboration and Coordination Among Police."

The session beginning at 1:30 p.m. will be "Enhancing Police Accountability."

The policy forums are taking place in Room 420 at the Wosk Centre for Dialogue, 580 West Hastings, in Vancouver.

The policy forums are intended to help Oppal make recommendations to the government inhis final report, which must be completed by June 30.

The inquiry is probing some of the failures of the investigations by Vancouver police and the RCMP to catch serial killer Robert Pickton sooner.

Pickton's kiling spree ended with his arrest in 2002.

He was convicted in 2007 of six murders of women who disappeared from the streets of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, blocks from the police station.

He killed the women at his farm in Port Coquitlam, which is policed by the RCMP.

Pickton was on the police radar by 1998.

Pickton once confided he killed 49 women.

nhall@vancouversun.com

 

 

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Updated: August 21, 2016