DNA testing costs dumped on cities

Surrey will have to shell out another $410,000 in its policing budget, while Delta will have to find another $96,000

Between 1995 and 2009, police had been hunting for the man who had been sexually assaulting children in Vancouver, Delta and Surrey with increasing violence.

DNA had ruled out 561 suspects.

Crime analysts narrowed down the most likely suspect to one man – Ibata Hexamer.

He was watched by police as he threw a coffee cup away, an item that proved to match DNA found on victims.

Hexamer pled guilty to the crimes.

“Had we not been called in and applied our approach to it, and they stayed with traditional policing investigative techniques on this file, we might not have caught him on the second hit, or the next, or the next,” VPD Special Const. Ryan Prox said in a book titled Eliminatiing Crime. “And he was escalating, he was probably going to kill next… “

It’s just one instance of how effective – and important – DNA testing is to modern policing.

Municipalities just found out the province-federal government police funding agreement will see DNA lab costs downloaded to local government.

For Surrey, it will cost more than $400,000 per year and in Delta, the lab costs are $96,000.

Surrey Coun. Bruce Hayne said it’s another hit to a city that just hired another 100 police officers.

“So these kinds of additional costs are certainly unwelcome,” said Hayne, who understands the downloading is being initiated by the federal government. “Municipalities have never paid for it (DNA testing) before, up until this point.”

He equated the costs to provincial fire fighting in that it’s unpredictable and must be paid for regardless.

“We need to give all the tools necessary to the RCMP to do their job,” Hayne said.

The approaching downloading has been coming for a while.

In February, 2014, then mayor Dianne Watts sent a letter to former Conservative Minister of Public Safety Steven Blaney asking that he reverse plans to download DNA costs to local government.

“It is not appropriate for Public Safety Canada to make assertions about service reductions when service delivery is the responsibility of the RCMP and when the Province is constitutionally responsible for ensuring adequate and effective policing,”  Watts and UBCM president Rhona Martin wrote to Blaney.

Haynes said the issue will be going to the Union of B.C. Municipalities again and will be a subject of regional policing talks with Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner.