The Municipal Integrated Emergency Response Team, which handled emergency situations in Port Moody, Abbotsford, Delta and New Westminster, disbanded on Jan. 1 and the Royal City's emergency situations will now be contracted out to the RCMP's emergency response team.
MIERT responded to high-risk situations such as drug busts, armed standoffs and gang-related arrests.
According to New Westminster Police Department spokesperson Sgt. Diana McDaniel, the police department will reap savings of approximately $100,000 with the move. The department was paying a floating cost of approximately $400,000 when they were part of MIERT and now will pay a fixed cost of just more than $300,000.
"We want to tell the people of New Westminster that service will not be degraded in any way because of this," said McDaniel. "In fact, we believe it's been enhanced and it will be business as usual and people won't notice any difference."
According to a note on the police department's website, the New Westminster Police Department emergency response team joined forces with Port Moody, Abbotsford and Delta to create the team in 2003. The team was composed of critical incident managers, negotiators and an emergency response team.
The team played a major role in providing special resources needed to reduce or if possible remove the potential for loss of life and threat to safety during confrontations with armed criminals and other high-risk situations.
Several years ago, civic and police leaders in the four cities decided to purchase an armoured rescue vehicle for MIERT's use and in March 2011, the vehicle was put into service.
The two most recent times MIERT was utilized in New Westminster were on Nov. 8 during an armed standoff just outside the Starlight Casino in Queensborough and on Dec. 19, for an unidentified New Westminster incident.
Of the three other cities that used MIERT previously, Port Moody has opted to use the Vancouver Police Department's response team, Delta has decided on a hybrid of Vancouver and its own emergency team, and Abbotsford will develop its own emergency response squad.