Pubdate: Mon, 24 Jan 2005
Source: Province, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2005 The Province
Author: Ian Austin and David Carrigg
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)


Focus To Be On Grow-Ops, Cyber Crime

Premier Gordon Campbell will announce funding for more than 200 police 
officers today, The Province has learned.

Campbell will make the announcement at the Provincial Congress, a meeting 
of federal MPs and senators, provincial MLAs, municipal politicians and 
native leaders in Vancouver.

Campbell said the new officers will focus on combatting marijuana grow-ops 
and cyber crime, and providing officers for native communities and 
communities under 5,000 population.

"It's a major new allocation to policing in British Columbia," the premier 
said in an exclusive interview. "This will be one of the largest increases 
in the last two decades."

Flush with cash from a projected $2-billion budget surplus, and with an 
election just months away, the B.C. Liberals are freeing up spending after 
years of belt-tightening.

Campbell said the funding will go to both RCMP and municipal forces around 
the province.

"Every community will benefit from this," he said. "Criminals don't care 
about boundaries or borders."

The premier cited multi-jurisdictional units such as the integrated 
homicide unit, the integrated organized crime unit and the Indo-Canadian 
task force as examples of the future of policing.

The news will be welcomed by the Vancouver Police Department which wants 
another 470 officers on the beat in time for the 2010 Winter Olympics.

"I think 100 a year [for five years] is too much, but we'll see," said 
Vancouver Coun. Jim Green.

In addition to the extra officers, the department also wants to hire 230 
more civilian staff over the next five years to bring the total civilian 
force to 400.

Police Chief Jamie Graham's request would bring the number of officers to 
1,574 by 2010 and cost an extra $35 million a year. The additional civilian 
workers would cost an extra $10 million a year.

Coun. Peter Ladner said he is torn between the need to have more police and 
the cost. The city has already agreed to increase the police budget by $8 
million this year.

The additional staffing would require a three-per-cent increase in property 

The department also wants $750,000 for community policing.

An independent consultant is reviewing the requested extra funding. It will 
then go to a public hearing.

The department overshot its 2004 budget by $4 million. Council will vote on 
the request on March 3.
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