LETTERS: Benefits of municipal police force would outweigh added cost

Editor:

Re: RCMP a poor fit for city, Jan. 4

I would like to voice my support for recent comments by Ron Eves regarding the benefits of a switch to a municipal police force in Surrey.

First, there are already 13 municipal police forces operating in B.C. in addition to the RCMP and two railway police forces.

They all work together now and a change in Surrey would not leave the new Surrey police force out on their own without support of the RCMP and these other agencies.

Second, every major city in every province across Canada has its own police force or is part of a regional police force involving adjacent communities.

All were created between 1833 and 1903, when they were much smaller than Surrey is now.

My list includes the following: Victoria 1858, Vancouver 1886, Calgary 1885, Edmonton 1892, Regina 1892, Saskatoon 1903, Winnipeg 1874, Toronto 1834, Ottawa 1855, Hamilton 1833, Montreal 1865, Quebec City 1843, St. John NB 1849, Halifax 1864, Charlottetown 1855, and St. John’s NL 1841.

Third, I have been fortunate to know, work with and have a number of RCMP officers as friends.

In addition, my uncle was also a member of the Northwest Mounted Police, was in the Musical Ride and did the “Long Patrol” across the Arctic by dog team.

However, I believe the RCMP is not suited for service in a large city like Surrey for several reasons:

• Regular transfers of officers to other communities can reduce community connectivity and loss of important knowledge. You need to get to know your police officers over time and they need to know you.

• A community police department answers to a local police board, not E Division HQ for B.C. or the national HQ in Ottawa. A few years ago it was suggested that the RCMP in Surrey implement restrictions on known gangsters’ access to restaurants, clubs and other public venues as was done in Vancouver.

The RCMP declined to implement that recommendation. I saw in the Peace Arch News recently the RCMP has just changed their mind on this matter.

It appears the RCMP officials who made the original decision were not aware of the seriousness of the problems in Surrey as they were not located here.

• The Taser incident and death of Robert Dziekanski at the Vancouver airport and the misinformation which was provided by the RCMP about the event shows how a large corporate entity that has lost contact with the public can go seriously astray.

• Last, the RCMP has been faced with a huge number of legal actions for bullying and harassment by current and former officers. They have and are paying out many millions of dollars in settling those legal actions.

This is not the leadership I believe should be controlling, directing and managing the large detachment of police officers in our community. We need a local police board made up of knowledgeable and dedicated members of our community to guide and help build a new Surrey municipal police service.”

There may be an increase in the cost to us, the taxpayers, but I strongly believe the benefits in improved service and security for the citizens and visitors to Surrey will outweigh any additional cost.

Tim Roark, Surrey

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