Vancouver police chief gives nod to calls for regional police force

The Canadian Press

VANCOUVER - Vancouver's police chief says his department supports a key recommendation from the Robert Pickton inquiry for a regional police force across B.C.'s Lower Mainland.

Chief Jim Chu makes the comments in an administrative report to the Vancouver Police Board, outlining for the first time the force's official response to the 63 recommendations from inquiry commissioner Wally Oppal.

Chu declined comment on whether he favoured a single, unified police force when the recommendations were released last month, although Oppal's plan immediately renewed a debate that has long divided the region's mayors.

Oppal concluded serial killer Robert Pickton was able to evade arrest for years, in part because he picked up sex workers in Vancouver and murdered them in Port Coquitlam — exploiting rivalries and poor communication between city police and the suburban RCMP.

Oppal also found bias against sex workers was a key factor in the botched investigation, and he called for the renewal of the now-disbanded Vancouver Police and Native Liaison Society.

But Chu notes the city already has the Aboriginal Community Police Centre, which he says is doing the job of the former Vancouver Police and Native Liaison Society.

The Missing Women Commission of Inquiry released its findings Dec. 17, examining why police failed to catch Pickton until his arrest in February 2002.