Linda Annis

Surrey: Councillor Linda Annis says Surrey needs to hire more RCMP officers, even as it makes plans for its own police department.

“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 who is taking issue with the proposed city budget that excludes hiring any new officers.

Annis said public safety was a major concern for Surrey voters in the October election, and putting a freeze on hiring new police officers until a new police department is created flies in the face of that concern and the very real need for more officers right away.

“Surrey currently has 835 officers, but with secondments to other law enforcement teams in the region there are really only 777 officers available to us,” said Annis. “Vancouver has some 1,400 officers, that’s one officer for every 451 Vancouver residents. Our current ratio in Surrey is one officer 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.

“We’re the fastest growing city in the region. Our population is growing by 300 families per month and geographically our city is the size of Vancouver, Burnaby and Richmond combined. Our RCMP officers have a lot of geography to cover and they carry a much higher caseload than any other RCMP or municipal police force in the region. Not hiring the RCMP officers we need is no way to improve public safety or tackle gang violence in our city.”

Annis said that while she voted to start work on creating Surrey’s own police department, the city cannot put public safety on hold while the new police department is being created.

“Creating a Surrey police department is going to take time and resources, it’s not going to happen overnight,” added Annis. “Meanwhile, city council has to make sure we provide the police and resources Surrey needs today. Public safety is a priority and I think we should treat it that way by adding the appropriate number of officers we need each year. Anything less and we’re ignoring the concerns and safety of Surrey families.”