SURREY mayoral candidate Doug McCallum on Thursday said that as a result of his filing three Access to Information (ATIP) requests on August 5, the RCMP has released shocking figures regarding staffing levels and the amount of officers available for patrol.
Out of 673 officers in the Surrey RCMP detachment, only 36 are available for shifts on any given day of the week. With City of Surrey projections of population coming in at 509,610 for 2014, that means that there is one officer for every 14,156 Surrey residents.
For a city that is poised to be the largest in British Columbia within the decade, these numbers are baffling, said McCallum.
“Fielding 36 officers for patrol amidst a force of 673 is absolutely shocking for a city with the geographic and population size of Surrey,” says McCallum. “The citizens of Surrey are paying over $90 million a year under the contract that was signed by the City in 2012, and these numbers demonstrate the insufficient service levels that are being provided by the Surrey RCMP.”
Councillor Linda Hepner remains silent about the statistics, which is in line with her consistent votes to close Police Committee meetings over the past six years.
In response to the release of figures just days after McCallum’s ATIP requests, Councillor Barinder Rasode (who has also voted to close Police Committee meetings for the past six years) commented to the Surrey Leader newspaper that she was “pleasantly surprised that it’s in the range that it’s been for a number of years.” Rasode offered a similar response when the 20-year contract was signed with the Surrey RCMP in 2012:“We’re really happy. We’re the largest detachment in Canada and our city manager worked diligently for three years on a contract that was very complex and we’re really happy with the results.”
This is the kind of irresponsible response that characterizes the current Surrey City Council’s lackadaisical approach to crime and safety, said McCallum.
“We have the largest RCMP detachment in Canada, and yet we can only muster 36 officers for patrol of our streets? I am amazed by Councillor Rasode’s acceptance of the status quo,” said McCallum. “These are not figures that are pleasant. They are in fact extremely concerning.”
In 2012, Rasode trumpeted a new clause in the contract that “allows the city to have information and meetings to do an analysis to make sure we’re also getting value.” Where then is this analysis, and why hasn’t action been taken to ensure such “value,” asked McCallum.
“City Council told citizens that there would be a higher level of scrutiny over the policing services provided by the Surrey RCMP, yet the figures released today tell a far different story,” said McCallum. “If the residents of Surrey cannot rely on their elected officials to ensure accountability, then there is a serious problem with leadership when it comes to ensuring the safety and security of Surrey’s streets.”
HOWEVER,Superintendent Trent Rolfe, Acting Officer in Charge, Surrey RCMP, in a statement on Friday said: “There have been recent reports stating a staffing number for our General Duty shifts. The Surrey RCMP did not release this number and the number reported significantly understates the actual number of resources policing the City of Surrey. We do not publicize these types of statistics due to public and officer safety concerns.
“It is important for people to realize that policing a city goes far beyond General Duty. We have numerous specialized units who are also actively on duty, providing police service to the City of Surrey. These units include Investigative Services, Traffic, Bike Unit, Special Victims Unit, Crime Reduction Units, Drug Section, Surrey Gang Enforcement Team, Robbery Unit, and many more. While each of these units are tasked with specific duties, they are actively patrolling the streets and reacting to incidents that occur as well as supporting patrol officers in specific investigations. In addition, the Surrey RCMP has the operational support of the Lower Mainland Regional Police Service and integrated units including IHIT, Emergency Response Team (ERT), Air 1, and others.
“We deploy our officers strategically in order to effectively respond to calls for services and ensure the safety of our officers, including strategic placement in our five District Offices. The total establishment for the Surrey RCMP is 619 plus 54 integrated members, for a total of 673 police officers serving Surrey. There will also be 30 new members for fiscal year 2014/15 who are not yet in place.”