Surrey First’s response to expert report on policing

Linda Hepner Photo by Chandra Bodalia

THE Surrey First electoral coalition has embraced the findings of a major study into policing and crime reduction to be considered this week by the City of Surrey’s Police Committee.

Dr. Irwin Cohen, a policing expert at the University of the Fraser Valley, 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 Surrey.

“Public safety is our number one priority, it’s too important to make up on the fly,” said Councillor Linda Hepner, Surrey First’s candidate for Mayor. “That’s why we’ve waited to see what was in Dr. Cohen’s report before releasing our platform, to ensure it was in line with what experts who understand Surrey.”

Surrey First, the electoral team founded and supported by Mayor Dianne Watts, revealed Saturday that its crime platform will adopt many of the recommendations put forth by Dr. Cohen. These include 47 more RCMP members on top of the 100 already announced by Surrey First, and establishing a secure mental health facility in Surrey as part of a coordinated approach to managing mental illness and addiction.

Surrey First has been targeting a ratio of one police officer per 700 residents, and the increase in officers recommended by the report will surpass that goal.

“Policing is a complex, dangerous profession that needs to be handled by professionals, and having spent 15 years with the Surrey RCMP, I can tell you that we have unique needs here,” said Dave Woods, a Surrey First Council candidate who served 43 years with the RCMP and was named Surrey’s Police Officer of the Year in 2006 and former District Commander for the Cloverdale/Port Kells area.

“We’re a growing, rapidly urbanizing community and you can’t transplant cookie-cutter solutions from other communities, you really have to look at Surrey’s unique needs and design custom solutions with an open mind.”

Surrey First will announce full details of its crime platform on Wednesday, after the report by Dr. Cohen is considered by the Police Committee on Tuesday.