AFTER receiving several community requests regarding the deployment of the Surrey RCMP detachment, and being stonewalled about such numbers as a result of Police Committee meetings being closed to the public, Surrey mayoral candidate Doug McCallum says he filed three Access to Information requests on Tuesday.
The requests ask the following questions:
1) Out of the 673 officers in the Surrey RCMP detachment, how many officers were on patrol for each shift between July 5-August 5, 2014?
2) Out of the 673 officers in the Surrey RCMP detachment, how many are currently designated in each of the following categories:
a) Sick leave
b) Long-term disability
c) Stress leave
d) On loan outside of the Surrey RCMP Detachment
e) WCB or Worksafe claims
f) Declared unfit for duty
g) Vacant / unfilled positions
3) Out of the 673 officers in the Surrey RCMP detachment, how many officers are:
a) In uniform
b) Plain clothes
With the City of Surrey signing a 20-year contract with the RCMP in 2012 (of which it is responsible for 90 per cent of the costs), residents have a right to know how many officers are active on patrol, says McCallum.
“Surrey taxpayers are responsible for over $90 million per year for the RCMP detachment, yet the public cannot access information about how many officers are patrolling the streets,” notes McCallum. “This is unacceptable, particularly with such heightened concern about personal safety in our neighbourhoods.”
A new clause in the contract allows the City of Surrey to access information through meetings to allow for improved oversight of the expenditure. In 2012, former head of the Police Committee Councillor Barinder Rasode trumpeted this provision by saying that it “allows the city to have information and meetings to do an analysis to make sure we’re also getting value.” Yet over two years later, and following a 127 per cent increase in homicides in 2013, this type of accountability remains hidden from public consumption.
There is absolutely no reason why this information should not be made widely available, as community confidence is dramatically influenced by the level of open and continuous communications with elected officials and the police, adds McCallum.
“I am hopeful that these Access to Information requests will allow for greater transparency in the policing that is being provided in the City of Surrey,” says McCallum. “With closed Police Committee meetings receiving unanimous support from City councillors over the past six years, I am taking a lead to shine a light on this record of secrecy. At the end of the day, I am asking these questions because of my concern about public safety in Surrey.”