BY RATTAN MALL
SURREY Mayor Dianne Watts and Council endorsed a proposal on Wednesday to add 95 RCMP officers to the Surrey Detachment over the next five years.
But Councillor Barinder Rasode exposed Watts’ farce by asking Surrey RCMP Chief Superintendent Bill Fordy at the meeting how many officers he had asked for from the police committee. Fordy replied that he had asked for 27 officers for this year.
Barinder told The VOICE that meant “in five years we should have 135 new officers” – based on Surrey’s Crime Reduction Strategy and the ratio of officers to the population.
It took a record 25 murders in 2013 for Watts and her Surrey First councillors to finally act. Also, this is an election year.
Watts said: “This pledge to increase the number of RCMP officers in Surrey is a continuation of the work we started in October of 2013 to disrupt criminal activity in our city. The additional officers have been realized through efficiencies within the RCMP as a result of the review process. Public safety remains my top priority and the actions we have taken today show that council and I will continue our policy to confront and disrupt criminal activity in Surrey.”
But Watts should have woken up much earlier. No arrest has yet been made either in the horrendous murder of hockey mom Julie Paskall outside Newton Arena or in the horrific attack on 72-year-old Gurcharan Singh Gill, 72, in broad daylight in Newton Athletic Park.
At Wednesday’s Police Committee meeting, several recommendations came forward as a result of the update on the Mayor’s Task Force and the police service review which was initiated last October.
The Community Safety Officer program is also evolving to allow for expanded authority by changing the role to community constable. The new designation will enhance policing in the city by giving the community constables the power to arrest and carry a firearm.
In addition to the increase in RCMP officers, 20 community safety patrol personnel, of which 10 will start work immediately within the Newton Town Centre, will be deployed in the community. The uniformed foot patrols will be staffed by BC Commissionaires. They will be a highly visible presence and will work closely with RCMP in sharing of intelligence.
Aside from the increase in RCMP officers, community constables and community safety patrol, the City of Surrey will also move from reporting its crime statistics on a quarterly basis to a monthly basis. The data is freely open to everyone.
The highlights of enforcement results in the first 90 days since the creation of the Mayor’s Task Force:
* 250 arrests made
* 86 charges recommended
* Significant drugs seized
* Weapon seizures
* $100,668 Canadian currency seized
* The Uniform Gang Enforcement Unit
* 38 arrests made
*11 charges recommended
* 7 weapons seized
* 159 street checks
* 182 vehicle stops
Watts said: “My goal in reducing crime in Surrey is to not pursue quick fixes but to effect a long term and permanent change by tackling the root causes of crime. As part of our Crime Reduction strategy, I will continue to advocate for our city for additional dollars from the federal and provincial governments for addiction and mental health services. The steps we have taken today will ensure that the Surrey RCMP and the City of Surrey will have the continued resources to be proactive in reducing crime and increasing public safety within our communities.”
But what was Watts doing all these years even as the crime situation deteriorated in Surrey? She was like the proverbial ostrich with her head in the sand, sitting pretty like an unchallenged queen.
Surrey cell phone store owner Rob Riarh told The Province newspaper that of his 27 stores across B.C. and Alberta, the only issue with robberies is in Surrey. There has been a series of robberies at his stores.
A plethora of cold statistics will provide little comfort to Surrey residents.