The province’s deputy commissioner for the RCMP is defending funding cuts to organized and serious crime forces this week.
The province cut $4.2 million from the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit (CFSEU) and Provincial Major Crime program, slicing a total of 25 investigators from the Outlaw Motorcycle Gang squad and the major crimes’ missing persons and unsolved homicide team.
“After significant consultation with my Senior Management Team and the CFSEU-BC Board of Governance, I notified the province that the budget shortfall would be reflected in cuts to the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit BC and to the Provincial Major Crime program,” Deputy Commissioner Craig Callens said in a release Wednesday.
Surrey Coun. Tom Gill described the loss of those services as “unfortunate.”
He said that luckily, Surrey has a detachment large enough to cover those lost positions, but many smaller detachments will not.
The move by the province to cut costs at the detriment of municipalities is nothing new, he said, adding it often happens by way of roads and social services.
“The provincial government is just trying to balance its budget on the backs of the municipalities,” Gill said.
“This is a very important issue,” he added, noting the city should be banging on the solicitor general’s door to have those services returned.
The cuts to CFSEU amount to $2.8 million, chopping 12 positions to the bike gang squad and maintaining a “vacancy pattern” while reducing support positions.
Major crimes is being cut by 13 positions in the Special Projects/Unsolved Homicide/Missing Persons program. This includes the reduction of 13 full-time investigators within various projects.
Surrey RCMP Sgt. Dale Carr said the cuts won’t have a huge impact on Surrey.
“It’s not going to have that profound an effect on Surrey itself,” Carr said. “We experience things like this on a regular basis, where the dynamics change in policing and we have to adjust our resources.”
Former chair of Surrey’s police committee, Coun. Barinder Rasode, said it’s not a question of whether the RCMP can adjust.
“I have no doubt that they could absorb it, I’m just saying they shouldn’t have to,” Rasode said.
She said the Solicitor General should be asked to return those services, but also to work with the local municipalities on what services should be cut, if any.
Surrey was not consulted at all before the cuts were announced, she’s said.
Former Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum, who is campaigning for the job this fall, said the timing of the budget reductions couldn’t be worse.
“These cuts are completely inappropriate,” McCallum said.
He agrees with Rasode that Surrey should have been consulted on the decision.
“We have got to get better communication in the RCMP and the region,” said McCallum, saying it’s key to effective decision-making.