Nova Scotia’s Cumberland County could replace RCMP with new service

Click to play video: 'Cumberland County considers replacing RCMP with new policing service'
Cumberland County considers replacing RCMP with new policing service
Cumberland County is considering replacing the RCMP with a new policing service. In a special meeting held Tuesday, council voted unanimously to seek proposals for the community. Skye Bryden-Blom reports – Apr 12, 2023

Nova Scotia’s Cumberland County could potentially replace the RCMP with a new policing service.

In a special meeting held on Tuesday, the municipal council voted unanimously to seek proposals for the community. It has agreed to issue a request for proposals for policing in the region.

District 1 Coun. Fred Gould says after several public consultations it’s clear residents want to see improved response times and greater visibility in communities, especially in a county so vast.

“I wouldn’t be surprised that any proposal that comes in — because of what we’re asking them to be able to possibly do — will come in with a bigger force and more bodies,” Gould says.

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He adds that there are many possibilities with several nearby forces, including the Amherst Police Department and the Truro Police Service.

“I don’t know how much interest there will be,” Gould says. “It’s a big undertaking and there are a lot of factors that go into it – even more than I thought when we first started.”

He says one thing that wasn’t a factor in the decision was money. He says they aren’t looking for the cheapest bid, but the best proposal for community safety.

The mayor of the municipality of Cumberland says the review was launched a year ago and he’s hopeful for change.

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“From what we’ve heard and from going through this process,” Murray Scott says. “Just the status quo, just to turn our heads and ignore what we heard from the public wouldn’t work for us.”

Click to play video: 'Chief of N.S. fire hall shot at by RCMP in mass shooting reacts to report'
Chief of N.S. fire hall shot at by RCMP in mass shooting reacts to report

In a statement, the assistant commissioner of the Nova Scotia RCMP says the force will be submitting a proposal to remain the service provider in Cumberland County.

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“The RCMP, our members, and our employees have the knowledge, equipment and training to serve the County with exceptional policing services,” says Dennis Daley. “I want to reassure residents, business owners and stakeholders in Cumberland County that our commitment to you remains.”

Meantime, El Jones, who oversees the Halifax defunding the police committee, says a change in service doesn’t necessarily fix problems in a community.

“The officers that are already policing the community as RCMP, would they just become officers in the new force?” she says. “So then what’s the difference? Or are you going to have new officers with absolutely no training?”

El Jones. Ella MacDonald / Global News

Jones says another option is to put funding into programs that deal with the social causes of crime, including better mental health and addiction support.

“I think the issue is why do we call upon punishment as our only social value and why we’re not willing to put money into actually solving these things before they become a crisis,” Jones says. “And that is what we’ve been saying all along.”

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She adds that the police response to serious incidents like mass shootings and serial killers also brings into question how effective intervention is over prevention.

“What we actually see is that the police haven’t intervened, and there have been many opportunities,” Jones says. “With Bruce McArthur in Toronto, the serial killer, people in the queer community reported people were missing…. In Portapique, we know (Gabriel) Wortman not only had a police car, but also had a long history of domestic violence, and had a history of other assaults — and then we were told he wasn’t known to police.”

She encourages the shifting of resources into new areas and for communities to critically think about why they call on the police.

The municipality is accepting proposals until May 19.

— with files from Ella MacDonald.

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