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Comment: B.C. must not forget our special provincial constables

​​​​​​​A commentary by a veteran and former special provincial constable with the B.C. Conservation Officer Service who is lecturing as associate faculty with Royal Roads University and provides policy analysis to Pacific Wild Alliance, Canada.
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Special provincial constables provide a wide array of unique policing services, including environmental and protective operations, that must be considered if the province moves to a provincial police force, Bryce Casavant writes. TIMES COLONIST

The B.C. Legislature’s Special Committee for Reforming the Police Act released their much-anticipated report on April 28.

The committee made multiple overarching recommendations on police reform in British Columbia. Chief among those recommendations was a transition away from the RCMP as our primary policing service and re-establishment of a provincial police force model (which existed in various forms in the province from 1871 until 1950).

However, the mechanics and cautions of such a frontier move were not discussed in any detail.

It is noteworthy that the committee chose not to provide comment on the special provincial constabulary services in the province (although many submissions were received). Special provincial constables provide a wide array of unique policing services, including environmental and protective operations.

Should the province adopt the committee’s recommendations and shift towards the re-establishment of a provincial police force, it is essential that the province’s current special constabulary is included and considered in the statutory policing discussions to come.

It would be unfortunate during a transition period if the current skilled constabulary services, working every day, were simply skipped in favour of a glossier picture of law enforcement.

An even more dire situation would be our highly skilled constables simply being absorbed by mandate into a Borg-like beast of an agency without careful consideration and understanding of their work.

Consideration and understanding that require a delicate, knowledgeable and flexibly tactful hand that can firmly guide the A-type (and often defensive) policing personalities that are sure to swamp the ministerial advice to come.

Our environment, our forests, our wildlife and even our elected officials’ own personal security currently rely on special provincial constables.

As the age-old saying goes — don’t mess it up.