MP Morris touts ‘three-tier’ approach to public safety

Public Safety Critic Welcomes Call for New Police Service in British Columbia

Prince George-Mackenzie MP Mike Morris voices support for the creation of a new provincial police service and hopes his proposal for a “three-tiered approach to public safety” will be considered as time goes on. as details are clarified.

The final report of the Select Committee on Police Act Reform was released last week and among its recommendations was to establish a “new provincial police service to take over formerly contracted-out services to the RCMP”.

“The Committee emphasized that the transition to a provincial police service is not a reflection on the job of each RCMP officer; rather, it is a reflection of governance and accountability challenges with the current federal model,” the committee added in the report.

Morris said Monday he favors an integrated police service.

“We have 64 municipal contracts with the RCMP and all of these individual contracts are more or less administered by the municipalities. We have 11 independent police forces, we have federal police departments, we have provincial police departments, and so there are a lot of fingers in the pie when it comes to providing not direction but strategic direction on different things,” Morris said in an interview.

In September 2020, Morris resigned from the committee, saying at the time that he was limited in what he could say and what ideas he could come up with. In the aftermath, he submitted a proposal for a “three-tiered” approach to policing and public safety in the province, made up of criminal investigators, public safety officers and community safety officers.

Comprised of armed officers in uniform and plainclothes, the judicial police officers would focus on containing the activities of prolific and dangerous criminals. Morris said this level should be under the auspices of the provincial government “because these resources need to be nimble enough to tackle crime wherever it occurs in the province.”

In the brief, Morris suggested his proposal would improve the chances of police carrying out “perfect investigations” that would increase the likelihood of charges being approved by Crown prosecutors and convicted.

Public safety officers, on the other hand, would be unarmed but uniformed and have special skills in defusing incidents related to mental health or addictions, as well as children and family matters. They would “work with different agencies to get the holistic help that people need,” Morris said on Monday.

A third “entry-level” tier of community security officers, also unarmed but in uniform, with qualifications roughly the same as private security companies, would provide “community-level security patrols. high visibility street, citizen welfare and property controls”.

In 2018, the cost of policing in British Columbia totaled nearly $2 billion, with municipalities bearing $1.3 billion of the bill, the province $408 million, and the federal government $246 million. according to Morris’ memoir.

The cost has likely increased since then, in part due to a new contract with the RCMP that includes a significant salary increase. In its 2022 budget, the City of Prince George allocated nearly $31 million to policing, up from an actual $24.8 million in 2017.

Morris said his proposal was unlikely to reduce the burden on taxpayers “but at the end of the day taxpayers would get a lot more for their money and we would have less trouble on the street.”

The committee’s final report was released five days after opposition BC Liberals released a letter from the BC Urban Mayors Caucus, which includes Prince George Mayor Lyn Hall, outlining concerns about the province’s “catch and release” justice system and the problems they have with prolific offenders.

Morris, who was solicitor general and public safety minister when the BC Liberals formed government and currently serves as portfolio critic, said ‘all governments have done a bad job’ when it comes to providing supports for people with mental health and addictions issues.

“That infrastructure is not there,” he said.

Prior to entering politics, Morris had a 32-year career with the RCMP before retiring in 2005 as Northern District Superintendent.