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Communication problems second to nightlife: RCMP

Enhancing police communication in Metro Vancouver could curb the volume of suburban crime traveling to Vancouver, says an SFU criminologist.

A Vancouver Sun story published Tuesday highlighted a Vancouver Police Department report showing that a third of those arrested in Vancouver live in other Metro Vancouver suburbs.

Additionally, four per cent was found to reside even farther away, according the story.

Bryan Kinney, an assistant professor and director of the Institute for Canadian Urban Research, said co-operation between police departments from different jurisdictions has gotten better in past decades, but communication needs to improve to contain crime.

“As in most industries, information has just gone through the roof,” said Kinney.

“It becomes [difficult to] share the right information. That wouldn’t change in my opinion, even if we had [another] provincial or regional police agency.”

Transit police and special task forces like Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) are privy to valuable information, but organizing it and making it available to all police and RCMP detachments is still a challenge for law enforcement in the lower mainland, according to Kinney.

RCMP inspector Tim Shields told the Tyee that communication among police forces in the Lower Mainland is more effective than ever in keeping crime local.

PRIME (Police Records Information Management Environment), a database shared by all municipal and RCMP detachments, has been instrumental in allowing police to deal with crime locally and keeping track of it across jurisdictions since it was implemented in 2003, said Shields.

The development of integrated units such as IHIT and the Integrated Gang Task Force, has also been a pivotal step in organizing police efforts, said Shields.

Police and RCMP can do their best to track and prevent prolific offenders from coming to urban hubs like Vancouver, but Shields recognizes that the attraction of Vancouver as a centre for nightlife and entertainment will always work against them.

“To be able to limit people from the suburbs from going to Vancouver is next to impossible,” said Shields.

Justin Langille reports on the landscape of work for The Tyee.

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