BY RATTAN MALL
DR. Robert Gordon, Professor of Criminology and Associate Dean at Simon Fraser University, told The VOICE this week that calls for a Surrey municipal police force “is part of the madness that arises whenever there is an election, especially at the municipal level.”
He added: “The ideas are clearly designed to try to deal with the continuing crime problem in Surrey and, unfortunately, these ideas are not always very sound and this is one of those ideas which is not sound.”
He added: “It’s an interesting idea, but in the current situation it is complete nonsense. It’s really regrettable that the budding politicians have all jumped on this bandwagon thinking that somehow it’s going to attract votes, which it won’t if people are thinking this through.”
Dr. Gordon, while criticizing the present policing system in Surrey RCMP, said that the only better alternative is the formation of a single Metropolitan Vancouver Police Service.
He added: “So to try to pretend somehow all the problems will go away if you have a Surrey Municipal Police Service is really irresponsible. And even if [Surrey Councillor and Surrey First’s mayoral candidate Tom] Gill is saying as he has, and I guess all the others are jumping on the bandwagon, ‘we will have a referendum,’ that is not the way to proceed with a major organizational change in an important area like policing.”
Dr. Gordon pointed out: “It might be something that is less important in the context of a fire service because that is fairly straightforward, but policing is complicated. [It] operates at a number of levels. And certainly you can have a local police service which is concerned with what might be referred to as minor crime; so, things like break and enter, and car thefts. This is all important to a community, but it’s not exactly earth-shattering crime!”
He added: “What’s going on in Surrey at the moment, and has been going on for years, is of course a crime spree which is coming from the nature of the population in Surrey which is generally quite mixed and you have a lot of new arrivals many of whom are without substantial needs who are drawn into [illegal] activities that are well-establish in Surrey.”
Noting that a large number of South Asians have been deeply involved in the illegal drug trade, he added that this was a regional problem.
Dr. Gordon said: “It’s not a Surrey problem per se. You can have a local police service that deals with stolen bicycles and the likes, but it doesn’t really cut to the heart of the crime problem in Surrey. They should stop wasting time and get on with the idea of having one regional police service for the whole of Metro Vancouver. That will fix the problem.”
Responding to questions by The VOICE, he said: “It’s very expensive to set up a police service. It’s not something that happens overnight. They (the City of Surrey) have a contract to use the RCMP – that would have to be cancelled. That contract, I think, has two years’ notice in it, so nothing’s going to happen for two years other than reorganizing for the third [year]. So it’s not even feasible within half of the shell life of the new council and the new mayor.”
He warned: “All it would do is create a pocket in Surrey which will become even more isolated from policing in the region as a whole. It makes no sense and is clearly, in my mind, nothing more than an election ploy. I really think it’s a shame that politicians behave this way. This is why people are skeptical about politicians and their antics. It’s really quite sad.”