SURREY’S Gurdwara Dukh Nivaran Sahib, Gurdwara Sahib Dasmesh Darbar and Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara leaders Giani Narinder Singh, Moninder Singh and Hardeep Singh, respectively, have in a joint letter to Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum decried the politicizing of Surrey’s policing mandate by those looking to promote their personal agendas.
The gurdwaras in their letter, copies of which have been sent to Mike Farnworth, B.C.’s Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, and Marco Mendicino, federal Minister of Public Safety, have urged McCallum to ensure that the democratic mandate for a municipal police for Surrey is implemented in a timely manner.
They also stressed that their primary concern is the safety and security of their community and children.
Here is their letter:
WE write to you with growing concern regarding the ongoing issues around policing in Surrey and the escalating situation around a municipal police service versus a federal service (RCMP). Our primary concern is the safety and security of our community and children and beyond that a growing concern regarding how much taxpayer money and governance time is being utilized on an issue that needs to be addressed and not politicized. We have appreciated your commitment to the mandate that you were voted into office on with an overwhelming majority and we expect you to continue moving forward.
The mandate you were voted in on included an expanded and improved police service for the City of Surrey and due process has been completed through the democratic processes we have at our disposal in our province/country. In June 2019 we wrote to Minister Mike Farnworth (Minister of Public Safety) asking for swift action to better Surrey’s policing mandate. Since then, the federal and provincial Governments have weighed in and have allowed the city to move forward and we cannot waste more time and taxpayer money on an issue that is being politicized by those looking to promote their personal agendas. We MUST move forward immediately to curb the increase in gang activity, drug distribution, and violent crime in Surrey.
As much as our concern lay with the current climate and walking young people back from this “gang lifestyle” we are more concerned about the coming generation and how we as a community will keep them engaged in positive community-oriented programming versus them pursuing a lifestyle that sees most of them dead within years. Those with a surface level understanding will often levy blame on parents and families without understanding the structure of policing in North America as a whole and a culture that offers impunity for its officers when they use excessive force and the impact those incidents have on marginalized and racialized communities who then have a deep mistrust for law enforcement. This understanding is key as a diverse and multi-cultural community like Surrey establishes a culture of safety, security, and trust amongst its residents.
While we are aware that policing alone does not resolve issues within communities that are suffering from gang and drug problems (often it can be Police that escalate such issues in many marginalized and racialized communities), we are also aware that a community centric Police service can gain the trust of the community and ensure equal and fair application of the law which all citizens have a right to and are beholden to. Surrey has seen mass amounts of gang violence over the last decade and we unfortunately have not seen results in curbing this activity and a change is desperately needed to the current policing model which is clearly not working. Other issues around programming for arts/culture, sports/recreation, etc. need to be addressed as well and it is our hope that this can be done soon, but all we have seen is ongoing bickering and disputes between City Council which has spilled over into the residents of Surrey and a growing divide amongst the people. As religious and faith-based organizations, we do not have the expertise nor the right to single-handedly guide decision making for the City of Surrey, but that is exactly what yourself and City Council are here to do.
Mayor McCallum, you have been committed to improving policing in Surrey and we expect strong leadership and decision making from yourself and City Council and a delivery of change within our city for the better. Our demand is simply an improvement to the safety, security, and welfare of our children and coming generations. Without this there is no future for Surrey and for a decade we feel Surrey has been deteriorating on this front. Economic development and business opportunities are worthless when our children lay dead in the streets, marginalized communities are pushed to the fringe, drugs are entering and being pushed in and around our schools at an alarming rate, and homelessness/addiction and mental health are becoming a crisis.
We are requesting a meeting immediately with yourself to further express our concerns and expect a reply to our letter as soon as possible. We can be contacted at [email protected] for a meeting to be scheduled.