BY RATTAN MALL
KASH Heed, former solicitor general of B.C. and former chief of West Vancouver Police told The VOICE this week that Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum is well on his way to changing policing in his city.
Heed said: “I was sceptical when Doug McCallum was first elected on whether he was able to do this. I’ll tell you, given what I have seen from him so far, there’s a clear indication he wants change. What that change is at the end of the day, we don’t really know what it’s going to look like, but I can tell you, given what I have seen, there is going to be a different coloured police uniform operating on the streets of Surrey.”
Heed added that he believes that if Surrey gets an independent municipal police force, there will be a domino effect.
He noted: “I think the people will see the sky didn’t fall, the financial crisis did not occur because the numbers that are being looked at right now, the numbers that were looked at in Richmond previously and in North Vancouver previously, are fraught with problems. Those are not the actual costs of policing that the RCMP keep putting forward as the reason why not to change. I think at the end of the day this will be borne out and you will see it’s not as costly as some people are making it out to be.”
Heed said the RCMP financial numbers need to be challenged.
Heed said that the paramount fact is that the current policing system in Surrey is not working. “It’s not working for the citizens of Surrey and, as we now know now, it’s not working for the electorate of Surrey. Clear indications are the motions that were put forward at Surrey Council’s inaugural meeting. Doug McCallum has been very consistent in his effort to reform policing in Surrey.”
Heed pointed out that what is abundantly clear is the significant increase in the homicides in Surrey in 2018. Homicides are a key factor that create a perception of fear in the community.
According to a Surrey RCMP press release: “All violent crime categories saw decreases in 2018, with the exception of homicides, which increased from 12 to 15 (+25%). There was no change in overall violent crime for the year, and a 2% decline in the most recent quarter.”
Heed said: “Now we have people that are coming on and saying why would we want to change our police structure when in fact crime has gone down?” He called it a really illogical rationale, noting that you have to look at the overall picture. In Surrey, there was an increase in crime over successive years and then a minor decrease in 2018 related to property crime and other violent crime.
Heed added: “That’s why in Vancouver when we monitor crime trends through the Compstat process that I brought in, we looked at the year to date, we looked at the previous year, we looked at the past three years, and we looked at five years’ data to ensure that crime is clearly on the decrease. So the argument put forward that ‘crime is on the decrease why would we want to change it?’ is an illogical and a faulty argument.”
REGIONAL POLICE FORCES
HEED pointed that he’s been in favour of police reform for the last 15 years and has been advocating for a regional approach to policing that has been successful elsewhere in North America.
He said: “I worked with Rob Gordon from Simon Fraser University and Bob Stewart, the former Chief of Vancouver Police. We put forward a paper that has been widely distributed. We have held regional forums to discuss the need for police reform and to look at a regional model of policing.”
Heed added: “Clear indication at this particular time is Surrey wants change but they are really not wanting to embrace the regional police approach and I recognize from my time in government is that regional police will not occur in this area unless the provincial government does it simply because you could never get all of these mayors agreeing on that particular approach. That has been evident in all the discussion we’ve had over the last several years on this particular issue.”
He pointed out: “When we look at Surrey, there is a need for change, there is a will for change, not only from the citizens and the politicians. There is some indication now that government may be willing to look at that change. We have to remember the provincial government under the BC Police Act make the final decision on policing here in the province of British Columbia. So Farnworth, the Solicitor General, will have to agree to this and I am not sure given some of the ridiculous statements he has made whether they will allow this to happen.”
Heed stressed: “Regional policing will not happen unless the provincial government involves themselves and makes that decision. Creating another independent municipal police agency in Metro Vancouver has its advantages for Surrey. Overall, will it have an advantage or a disadvantage for the region that has yet to be known and we will see how this pans out. But I think there is an interim step.”
Heed said he thinks Surrey should actually look at creating a South of the Fraser regional police service: Delta, which has an independent municipal police force, Surrey, Langley and White Rock. He added: “So now you start to look at some economies of scale in that particular area – it makes complete sense because it’s a physical divide.”
At the same time, you look at a North of the Fraser police service for other metro areas. That would include Richmond, Vancouver and Burnaby.
“And then, based on my discussions when I was the Chief in West Van, it’s very easy to create another divide and that’s the North Shore Police Service which would amalgamate the City of North Vancouver, the District of North Vancouver, the First Nations policing in that area and West Vancouver. Eventually you would want to move that right up to Pemberton and include Squamish and Whistler. It makes complete logic and it makes complete sense as to why you would want to look at this.”
“This is a middle of the ground step that I think people need to look at also,” Heed said.