Bylaw Department under new supervision
The Bylaw Department will be more restrained under a new policy manual and will come under the supervision of the RCMP.
"In my opinion, after consulting the RCMP and Crown counsel in the Attorney General’s office, the existing manual is on the aggressive side," acting administrator Drew Stotesbury said in introducing the new manual to council Monday.
Stotesbury outlined three imperatives in the new direction for the Bylaw Department:
o nobody gets hurt
o no bylaw officers are charged criminally
o the municipality doesn’t get sued civilly
Stotesbury noted that the Bylaw staff "have not embraced the changes warmly, but they’re coming around."
Mayor Ted Nebbeling said the changes are "not a consequence of the turmoil we’ve seen in the Bylaw Department recently," including the resignation of Bylaw Superintendent Calvin Logue. He said the municipality’s decision to talk with the RCMP about a new relationship, which began in October, was part of Logue’s decision to resign last month.
Nebbeling admitted some Bylaw officers don’t like the new direction but said the marriage was consecrated Monday.
Under the new arrangement Bylaw officers remain municipal employees, but one of the Whistler RCMP detachments three Non-Commissioned Officers — Staff Sergeant Jim Eglinski or one of the two corporals — provide direct day-to-day supervision. The Bylaw officers will now have direct radio contact with the RCMP.
The main change in the policy manual is with regard to night-time procedures. Stotesbury said the new procedures are consistent with the new direction of the Bylaw Department. Voluntary compliance is emphasized, physical restraint it to be used only as a last resort, and there is "a need for Bylaw officers to exercise discretion and good judgment."
Bylaw officers do not carry any weapons, including nightsticks and pepper spray. However, each Bylaw Enforcement vehicle does have pepper spray on board for use on animals.
While the changes are a new direction for the Bylaw Department, they may only be in place for a year. Under federal/provincial regulations, municipalities with a population of less than 5,000 full-time residents do not have to pay for RCMP services. Whistler’s population, which was 4,800 at the last census, is expected to be well beyond 5,000 when the results of this spring’s federal census are announced in 1997. The municipality has begun negotiations with the RCMP on how their detachment might be structured and integrated with the municipality. Discussions are underway to determine if the municipal Bylaw Department might be integrated into that new police structure.
Another option is to get rid of the RCMP and create a municipal police force.