06/11/2012 04:49 EDT | Updated 08/11/2012 05:12 EDT

North Vancouver municipalities could ditch RCMP

Police services on the North Shore could be amalgamated as local mayors seek to find an alternative to the RCMP.

The city and district of North Vancouver, which both rely on the national police force, are starting preliminary talks with neighbouring West Vancouver, which has its own police service, about working together to create a North Shore police force.

North Vancouver City Mayor Darrell Mussatto believes he'll end up signing the 20-year RCMP contract, but says he's eager to get out of it.

"We certainly can take advantage of the two-year opt out clause as we move forward," he said.

"So should we decide down the road to go to a municipal police force or another type of policing, there is a clause there that would allow us to do that."

Mussatto will be meeting with his counterpart, Mayor Mike Smith of West Vancouver, to discuss creating a joint police force.

Smith says talks are in the preliminary stages, but the North Shore municipalities are trying to figure out what a regional police force would look like.

"You know, we'd find it pretty frustrating to have people you know unzip their fly and you know and not be fired for it," he said, referring to recent allegations levelled at senior RCMP officers.

"I mean, that's not exactly the way we do things in West Vancouver."

Makes 'a lot of sense'

West Vancouver spends $13 million a year on the West Vancouver Police Department. Smith says a new force would save the municipalities money by centralizing operations and training.

"We'd have one sort of central command structure and one sort of dog unit structure and one training department," he said. "I think it would make a lot of sense and the savings would be good."

The B.C. government announced in March it would be signing a new 20-year RCMP contract with the federal government. The deal came after months of wrangling between the province and Ottawa over the renewal of B.C.'s agreement.

B.C. has the largest RCMP contingent in Canada. The force polices all rural areas of the province and all municipalities except for 13 urban areas and First Nations lands where there are local police forces.

But the RCMP has come under fire in recent months after a number of Mounties came forward with allegations of sexual harassment, discrimination and bullying within the force.

Many mayors across B.C. have also expressed concerns about the new RCMP contract because of unexpected wage hikes for the Mounties that weren't revealed before the province negotiated the 20-year deal.