Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts and White Rock Mayor Wayne Baldwin

Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts and White Rock Mayor Wayne Baldwin

Surrey’s police shift in wake of homicide shows need for separate detachment: WR mayor

Wayne Baldwin says the benefits of maintaining White Rock's 'no-call-too-small' police detachment outweigh the costs.

White Rock’s mayor says a mass redeployment of Surrey police officers to Whalley and Newton only strengthens his resolve to retain his city’s police detachment.

The 49-officer shift was announced by Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts Friday, in an update on her newly formed Mayor’s Task Force on Causal Factors, which is looking into that city’s 2013 murders.

The announcement followed the Dec. 31 death of 53-year-old Julie Paskall, who died two days after she was brutally beaten during a robbery outside Newton Arena.

Wayne Baldwin told Peace Arch News he emailed his White Rock council members and city manager Saturday after learning of the officer redeployment, to remind them of what the city stands to lose in an amalgamation.

“If we had been merged with Surrey, you know where a lot of those 49 would  have been redeployed from,” he writes.

Baldwin reiterated to PAN that he has no doubt amalgamation would result in reduced police coverage for the seaside city.

“They would go to where the trouble areas are. That’s what you do: you take your forces and you concentrate them in the trouble areas and try and deal with that,” he said.

In his email, Baldwin predicts South Surrey residents will pay for the increased focus on Newton and Whalley, through a reduced police presence “for the next couple of months, or more.”

White Rock’s policing costs, particularly those for integrated teams, were cited last month as argument in favour of amalgamating the two forces, but Baldwin said he’s “not convinced” there would be financial advantages to such a merger.

Not only would residents lose the “no-call-too-small” service they currently enjoy, but they would likely pay more for the service than their Surrey neighbours.

“Since our assessed value is relatively high compared to most of Surrey, we’re going to be paying a way higher cost than anyone else in Surrey, for the same coverage,” he said. “I just don’t see it being a really viable alternative.”

In his email, Baldwin describes maintaining White Rock’s detachment as “our best defence against the crime migrating from Newton into White Rock.”

“There is a price to be paid for controlling your own resources, and within reason it is necessary to pay that price in order to maintain your standards – particularly when it comes to something as important to people as personal safety.”