The decision by City of Surrey’s new council last week to begin the process of replacing its RCMP force with a civic one has received criticism. (File photo)

The decision by City of Surrey’s new council last week to begin the process of replacing its RCMP force with a civic one has received criticism. (File photo)

LETTERS: Serge of support

Editor: Re: Surrey unanimously drops RCMP, LRT, Nov. 7.

Editor:

Re: Surrey unanimously drops RCMP, LRT, Nov. 7.

Mayor Doug McCallum has made a complete-180 on his last position as mayor for Surrey.

From 1998 to 2006, according to his bio in Wikipedia, he fostered a zero base economy for Surrey during his terms of office. He left Surrey with a surplus.

This time as candidate and now-mayor, he has succumbed to populism popular with many political parties these days.

He campaigned on making our streets safe by having a city police force and getting rid of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. He felt that the RCMP was not protecting the streets of Surrey and his metropolis dream of a police force will do better. He has stated that Vancouver Police Department costs were lower then the RCMP, while having more officers on foot.

I heard on the radio that Stats Canada stated that gun crime and other crimes were down in Surrey. Is the RCMP not doing its job then?

McCallum is not stating the obvious to the citizens of Surrey – the costs of rebranding equipment and uniforms, transfers of manpower and its underlying uncertainties for those involved, dual pensions for those transferred and other variables that we face.

A cheaper cost to combat crime is to leave the status quo and have better-lighted streets and sidewalks.

Dana Edward Gill, Surrey

• • •

I am already tired of hearing Mayor Doug McCallum and the new council claiming that the “people of Surrey” spoke and voted them in to support McCallum’s personal agenda.

In reality, 13 per cent of the eligible voters voted for Doug and his team. This is hardly a sweeping mandate to base forcing two major changes on the city regardless of cost to the taxpayers.

This particularly applies to replacing the RCMP. There are no published figures identifying the cost of making this change for Surrey, and just as relevant is that there is no guarantee that a local police force will make Surrey any safer. If safety is the prime concern, a strategy for identifying the root causes and correcting the problems should be identified – and then have both the RCMP and a panel representing a local police force make presentations on how they would deal with the issues.

There needs to be some practical basis to determine if the RCMP needs to be replaced rather than meaningless political statements like “a local police force would be more connected to the people” or McCallum’s history with the RCMP in his previous terms in office.

The people of Surrey need to realize that there are going to be real costs associated with both the changes to the LRT and replacing the RCMP, and they deserve to know what those costs are before they are implemented.

Les Murrell, Surrey

• • •

An open letter to Mayor McCallum.

When interviewed by PAN, you said you are “delivering on the wishes of the people.” I would point out that you only received 41.38 per cent of the votes, which means that 58.62 per cent did not support what you are proposing to do.

What were you thinking when you decided to replace the RCMP with a local police force? I assume that it was just a line designed to appeal to a group of voters who reside in the most violent-criminal-plagued part of our city. But that now you are elected, here comes a reality check.

First of all, the logistics. Two years notice of cancellation is required to cancel the RCMP contract. In that time you have to train 800 sworn members of the RCMP together with 200 civilian members. Where do you plan to hire these 1,000 individuals?

RCMP recruits go through an in-depth psychological assessment followed by a minimum of six months training. Who will do the training and where will it take place?

What about equipping these recruits? There are uniforms, computers, firearms and support equipment, such as cellphones, cameras and radios, not to mention the vehicles and special equipment that would have to be purchased.

So let’s look at some of the costs. An RCMP cadet makes $53,144, rising to $86,110 after three years. So just while these cadets are training, that is $21.3 million on top of what is being paid the RCMP.

The Surrey RCMP also have approximately 143 cars, 80 unmarked cars, 60 light trucks, three heavy trucks and 18 SUVs, for a total of 304 vehicles. With a conservative estimate of an average of $40,000 per vehicle, that is $12.16 million, plus a Eurocopter EC 120 B helicopter costing $2.6 million, and you can see how this starts to add up. And I haven’t even mentioned the uniforms, firearms etc.

Since there would need to be experienced officers to lead this force, where will they come from? Presumably displaced RCMP personnel, but then how will that be different from what we have now?

Also, considering that current police costs are subsidized 10 per cent by the federal government, and that subsidy would disappear, all in all I can see a big black financial hole that residents of Surrey will have to fill from their pocketbooks.

And I have not even mentioned the extra $1.3 billion that the switch from LRT to Skytrain would cost.

Wouldn’t it make more sense to hire additional RCMP officers to focus on troubled areas of our city?

Ken Harrap, Surrey

Little help to Surrey

When I worked in Vancouver, the Expo Line was great – rapid commuting out of Surrey, no traffic.

So, if I lived in Langley and worked in Vancouver, I’d be pleased that Surrey is going to help pay for a SkyTrain extension to Langley – a faster commute north of the Fraser.

But I live in Surrey. An east-west SkyTrain expansion won’t help me get around Surrey without my car. And given that Skytrain will be elevated, what businesses in Surrey will be helped? Langley commuters will just wave as they fly by.

As far as LRT consultation goes, I recall being at public sessions hosted by Metro Vancouver about improving transit south of the Fraser going back more than 10 years.

Lesley Tannen, Surrey