EDITORIAL: RCMP under the gun

If nothing else, former solicitor general and MLA Kash Heed deserves credit for drawing attention to the current negotiations between the provincial government and the RCMP for a new 20-year contract.

Heed’s allegations that a police probe into his own conduct as MLA is an attempt at character assassination come at a crucial time in the RCMP’s history. Heed has been calling for more accountability for the RCMP and for that he may have made a few enemies on the force.

But it’s unlikely that the releasing of information in a warrant and charges related to alleged misuse of MLA funds to pay salaries of political operatives was merely an attempt to make Heed look bad and win public favour.

As a career police officer and former solicitor-general, Heed has experience to back up his assertions that the RCMP needs to do a better job policing itself. But his voice is just one among many calling for greater accountability after the handling of the missing women’s case, which a recent report suggested was mishandled by Mounties (and Vancouver Police); the death of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski; and recent stories of rogue police officers misusing their power.

In light of these stories, it would be a surprise if the new contract failed to reflect the need to restore public confidence. But these negotiations are being held behind closed doors and the public has no idea whether changes are being contemplated.

The plain truth of the matter is the RCMP needs to win back the public trust before arguing it does a better job than would a B.C. regional police force.

But it has many hurdles to clear. For one, the national police force appears to be at arm’s length from the communities it serves. Unlike municipal police forces, such as Delta’s, there is no local board in place to set priorities, nor is it as deftly able to handle media inquiries because it is such a large organization.

Still, the RCMP has great experience and resources to offer, and the success of the regional Integrated Gang Task Force and the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team have proven the Mounties can work effectively with other police agencies.

As for Heed, he should continue to ask for more police accountability but remain silent when it comes to his own affairs.

– Black Press

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