Platform calls for new mental health facility, new specialized court, local recruitment of officers, more efficient use of police resources, and a return to neighbourhood policing
Surrey: The Surrey First team detailed its plans to keep Surrey safe with 52 new police officers and an emphasis on more neighbourhood policing.
“Adding more officers is key, but we also want to see more community policing, so that officers know the neighbourhoods, the businesses and the people who live there,” explained Hepner. “We also want to help the RCMP recruit locally, so a joint recruitment campaign is part of our strategy. When those young Surrey officers leave the depot, I want their local knowledge to be put to work right away. Being from Surrey, they’ll know our city and its neighbourhoods and be able to hit the ground running.”
In a press release Surrey First said that statistics reveal crime is actually on the decline in Surrey. They expressed that Surrey First understands that public safety remains top of mind among many residents and announced its crime and public safety platform in order to include recommendations from the public safety report prepared by Dr. Irwin Cohen, a policing expert at the University of the Fraser Valley. Prepared for the City of Surrey and the RCMP, Dr. Cohen was given unprecedented access to the Surrey RCMP’s operations in order to provide a fresh perspective on how public safety can be improved in the city.
Based on that review, Surrey First announced it will expand the Surrey RCMP by 52 members on top of the current expansion plans of 95 officers for a total expansion of the RCMP by 147 new members. The first 100 new officers will be added within 24 months.
“This $21 million plan will provide what our city and its residents and businesses are looking for, and place particular emphasis on neighbourhood policing,” said Hepner.
“Surrey citizens want real police officers,” added Hepner. “They must be fully qualified, able to properly respond to calls, engage in crime prevention, and when necessary, make arrests. They also need to be assigned to a neighbourhood, not rotated around the city day-to-day. When these officers take ‘ownership’ of protecting their own assigned neighbourhoods, they get to know the residents and business owners. We have tremendous respect for the job done every single day by the RCMP, and we intend to give them the additional resources they need to protect and serve our citizens.”
In addition, Surrey First proposes working with the provincial government to build a secure mental health facility in Surrey for individuals with mental health and addictions issues.
“We need to work with police, the province and our neighbourhoods to tackle the issues of mental health and addiction, which are a part of many crimes,” said Hepner. “We want to provide the professional help these people need, and prevent them being placed back in the community without support. This approach also frees up police officers, who often spend a lot of their time acting as social workers, to focus on their policing duties.”
Surrey First is also calling for the establishment a new specialized court in Surrey. This would not necessarily be a community court, but would be based on the recommendations of an Attorney-General’s task force that is reviewing which kind of court is appropriate, and due to report back early next year.
The multi-point platform also includes requesting reinstatement of a now-completed provincial government pilot project to manage prolific offenders, expanded closed-circuit video surveillance in known crime hot-spots, and a comprehensive social policy framework to ensure tax dollars are spent efficiently by better integrating police, provincial corrections, social services and support for cases handled under the Mental Health Act.
Hepner said funding for the city’s portion of the platform costs will come from revenues received from growth, dividends from the Surrey City Development Corporation, secondary suite fees, and existing city taxes.“We’ve done a good job of managing our city’s finances over the past nine years, so we’re in a good position to afford the increase in police officers,” explained Hepner. “Good management means we have the ability to complete the plan and provide the people and resources we need in the months and years ahead.”