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Integration of Whistler and Pemberton RCMP going well



The unofficial amalgamation of Whistler and Pemberton’s RCMP detachments seems to be working out well.

"At the moment we are really communicating well and it looks like it will be positive," said Pemberton Mayor Elinor Warner.

Whistler took the lead role in policing both communities last March when illness, injury and retirement altered the look of the Pemberton force.

A business plan was drawn up to staff Pemberton, run the police station and move some of the administration to Whistler.

Warner said she is encouraged by the work of senior officers who regularly attend council meetings to brief the community on progress.

"We have never really had that before," she said.

While she has some concerns about the implementation of the whole business plan she is hopeful it will at least maintain the same level of service and perhaps even improve it. She is also looking for cost effective and efficient policing.

Staff Sgt. Hilton Haider of Whistler said the trial amalgamation has had "some bumps in the road," but overall the plan is providing excellent service in both communities.

Before amalgamation, said Haider, there would be weekdays where no police staff were available due to staffing shortages in Pemberton.

"We have been able to supplement resources and (Pemberton) has now been able to have a police officer on duty for 16-20 hours day," said Haider.

"So we have been able to enhance their policing service and their policing coverage. We have a minimum of two members on shift up there on a Friday and Saturday night, whereas before they only had one.

"And what is happening is that we are slowly rotating our members from here into Pemberton."

Whistler currently has 22 RCMP officers while Pemberton usually has five. With the integration of the units at least one staff member is available in Pemberton between 8 a.m. and 2 a.m. After office hours calls are routed to the Vancouver call centre, as they are in Whistler, and then an officer-on-call is alerted.

That could cause a glitch if the officer on call for Pemberton lives in Whistler. Whoever called the police could be waiting for up to 45 minutes for help.

But Haider said staff would always respond appropriately and if public safety were at risk plans would be made accordingly.

The police station in Pemberton will remain open and staffed, as will the holding cells.

The amalgamation also makes sense for the area, said Haider. Many people live in Pemberton and work in Whistler and that’s even true for RCMP officers.

All this sharing of resources also means more police cruisers on the road between the two communities.

"It is making our highway safer because now we have police cars travelling back and forth quite often and slowing people down," said Haider.

"They have high visibility."

Many other regions of the province already have amalgamated police forces.

One of the largest areas to undertake the transformation is the Peace area which this year joined several detachments, including Fort St. John, Dawson Creek, Hudson’s Hope, Chetwynd, Tumbler Ridge and Fort Nelson.

"That is a huge area," said Haider.

"And what it is accomplishing is cost saving on management and in most cases enhancing policing service."

Several smaller areas also have amalgamated services, such as Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam, and Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge.

The integration of some RCMP detachments and services is part of a provincial plan aimed at sharing resources and information better.

It is also hoped the plan will eliminate the duplication of some services. Part of the initiative calls for the combining of forensic identification, major crimes, media liaison, police dog squads and emergency response teams.

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