Surrey First Councillor Linda Annis says the city still needs to hire more Mounties regardless of plans to set up its own police force.
She says public safety cannot be put on hold.
“The officer in charge for Surrey detachment had made a recommendation that we need 150 officers over the next five years and I believe that that’s very reasonable, that would provide him with the manpower that’s needed to adequately police Surrey,” Annis told the Now-Leader. “That’s minimal, based on the rapid growth Surrey is experiencing.”
The proposed budget, unveiled Dec. 3, suggests that no RCMP will be added to the current force, which has 843 members currently, given the city’s intended transition to a municipal force. In 2018, 12 officers were hired.
Even without hiring any new officers, the city is looking at an additional $4.81 million in policing for costs such as the annualization of the 12 positions added this year, salary increases, operations and maintenance costs, and increased funding for integrated teams. Another $1.38 million in expenses is expected for RCMP support services.
“The idea that we’re not going to hire any new officers until we have our own police department makes absolutely no sense, particularly since the RCMP have identified the need for 150 new officers over the next five years as Surrey continues to grow,” said Annis, the lone Surrey First member of the Safe Surrey Coalition-dominated council.
Annis said in a press release Monday that public safety was a major concern for voters during the civic election and freezing the hiring of new officers until the new police department is set up “flies in the face of that concern and the very real need for more officers right away.
She noted that Surrey’s population is growing by about 300 families each month and geographically is as large as Vancouver, Burnaby and Richmond combined.
Annis noted that Vancouver has roughly 1,400 police officers, making for one cop for every 451 Vancouver residents whereas Surrey’s current ratio is one for every 667 residents.
“By freezing hiring we’re going to make that ratio even worse, which means public safety is going to be jeopardized and that’s reckless and unacceptable,” Annis said. “Creating a Surrey police department is going to take time and resources, it’s not going to happen overnight. Meanwhile, city council has to make sure we provide the police and resources Surrey needs today.
— with a file by Amy Reid.