An example of a Surrey Police cruiser, showcased at Mayor Doug McCallum’s State of the City Address at Civic Hotel on May 7. (Photo: Amy Reid)

An example of a Surrey Police cruiser, showcased at Mayor Doug McCallum’s State of the City Address at Civic Hotel on May 7. (Photo: Amy Reid)

Policing

Surrey councillor slams mayor’s policing plan for reducing mental health officers

Locke says it’s ‘unconscionable” that proposed ‘Mental Health Team’ in new force calls for just 11 officers

Surrey Councillor Brenda Locke is taking another shot at the proposed police transition plan, saying it would cut the current Surrey RCMP Police Mental Health and Outreach Team in half.

“The Transition Report is recommending that mental health team be reduced to only 11 officers comprised of one sergeant and ten constables. The report suggests that the police will work with ‘community partners’ to streamline the service,” Locke stated in an Aug. 13 release.

“That may be Vancouver’s solution, but they have significantly more health care facilities and resources. It’s risky here because Surrey has not kept pace with the social and health care infrastructure needs of a city our size,” she added. “Surrey’s PMHOT is in high demand with calls such as domestic violence, complex mental break downs, suicide attempts, psychotic breaks, people living at high risk (homeless) as well as problematic substance use and addiction. The PMHOT works with many patients providing immediate mental health exams in their homes and linking them services to help divert them from our City’s only hospital.”

Locke, former Minister of State for Mental Health and Addiction Services, said she finds it “unconscionable” that the Mayor Doug McCallum’s Police Transition Report would reduce the police mental health team by 50 per cent.

READ ALSO: First look at Surrey’s policing transition report

SEE MORE: Could Surrey find 800-plus officers for its new force by 2021?

She notes the transition report itself acknowledged that in some jurisdictions, up to 40 per cent of all police calls involve an individual with an apparent mental illness.

According to Locke, the current Surrey RCMP Police Mental Health and Outreach Team is made up of 21 officers: one staff sergeant, two corporals each with eight constables. In addition, she states four psychiatric nurses work with those officers.

Surrey RCMP told the Now-Leader Tuesday the current PMHOT has 20 officers.

“While other cities like are building similar teams for their own communities our Mayor is tearing ours down. This makes no sense at all,” Locke stated in the release.

“Surrey residents should be concerned about the Mayor’s direction of policing and public safety in general in our city. There must be proper checks and balances to ensure our public safety improves,” she added. “Something as important as policing and public safety needs to have effective, open discussion and healthy debate. We need to raise the bar, get beyond politics, and go through the Transition Report line by line. Mistakes in policing have very real consequences for our vulnerable citizens and for the community as a whole.”

A spokesman in the Mayor’s Office said McCallum was not available for comment on Tuesday.

This is the second time Locke has slammed the proposed policing transition plan. In mid-June, she criticized the report for reducing police officers for Sophie’s Place’s Child and Youth Abuse Team, saying it “fails abused children” by reducing the minimum number of officers based there from 11 to seven.

READ MORE: Surrey councillor says proposed police force ‘fails’ abused children

SEE ALSO: Linda Hepner flunks Surrey’s police transition plan

At the time, Mayor Doug McCallum said in an emailed statement that “the information Councillor Locke is providing amounts to fearmongering.”

“Staffing levels for Surrey Police, just as it is now for Surrey RCMP, is determined by the Chief of Police,” the mayor said. “The proposed staffing model in the Surrey Policing Transition Report is a starting point and officers can be moved and added to sections as deemed appropriate by the SPD Chief. It should be noted that under the new SPD model the 7 officers dedicated to Sophie’s Place would be complimented by and is part of a larger Special Investigations Section.”

Not even two weeks later, Locke announced she was parting ways with McCallum’s Safe Surrey Coalition, slamming the mayor’s so-called “my-way-or-the-highway approach.”

SEE ALSO: Councillor Steven Pettigrew parts ways with Safe Surrey Coalition

READ MORE: Hundial the latest councillor to split from McCallum’s Safe Surrey Coalition

Councillors Jack Hundial and Steven Pettigrew have also split from the slate, attributing their departures to what they describe as a lack of transparency and consultation on council and with the public.

Hundial split after the mayor dissolved the city’s Public Safety Committee – which all of council sat on – in favour of his new Interim Police Transition Committee for a not-yet-approved force.

All three have expressed serious concern over the proposed transition plan.

The plan is currently in the hands of the provincial government, which must approve the proposed force before it can move forward.

The City of Surrey’s proposed transition plan to convert from RCMP states the force will “go live” on April 1, 2021 and its operating costs will be $192.5 million that year.

That’s a 10.9 per cent increase from the $173.6 million the city projects the RCMP would cost that year. The report states that a unionization drive is underway within the RCMP and if achieved, “the gap between the cost of the Surrey RCMP and the cost of the Surrey PD would be eliminated.”

There are also an estimated $39.2 million in start-up costs.

While the proposed municipal force would have fewer officers, the report says it would have more staff overall.

Currently, Surrey RCMP has 843 members although the city report says 51 of those positions are vacant, meaning a “funded strength” of 792 officers. There are also 302 City of Surrey employees supporting the RCMP.

Surrey RCMP, however, says they don’t have 51 vacant positions but that those positions are created to cover temporary vacancies, when needed, such as maternity or sick leaves.

“It is important to note that we currently have a full complement of police officers at Surrey Detachment,” Surrey RCMP said in an emailed statement after the report’s release.

The transition report suggests a new municipal force in Surrey would have 805 police officers, 325 civilian positions and 20 Community Safety Personnel.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Mandeep Grewal was gunned down outside an Abbotsford bank in October 2018. Police said a violent gang war to control drug-line territory was going on at that time. Drug charges have now been announced against seven people. (FILE PHOTO: John Morrow/Abbotsford News)
7 people face 38 charges related to gang drug activity in Abbotsford and Mission

Police say investigation began in 2018 into expansion of Brothers Keepers’ drug line

A memorial to former Abbotsford and RCMP police officer Shinder Kirk in Cedar, B.C. Kirk died in a car accident on Cedar Road in December 2018. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Trial begins for driver involved in car crash that killed retired Abbotsford police sergeant

RCMP accident reconstructionist takes stand in trial of Conrad Nikolaus Wetten

RCMP
Vehicle in alleged hit and run ploughs into road sign in downtown Chilliwack

Police are looking for footage of a gold-coloured two-door Chevy car

The map shows the number of COVID-19 cases for the week of April 25 to May 1. The darkest areas indicate communities with a daily average of more than 20 cases per 100,000 population. (BC Centre of Disease Control)
Surrey and Abbotsford battle for top COVID hotspot in Fraser Health

Two communities are among areas across province showing highest transmission

One section of a bank of community mailboxes in Ryder Lake was stolen. (Facebook photo)
Brazen thief goes next level with mail theft in Ryder Lake

Chilliwack RCMP confirm a section of a community mailbox was taken off its base and removed

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

Flags flown at half mast out front of Fraser Regional Correctional Centre for slain corrections officer Bikramdeep Randhawa. (Neil Corbett/ The News)
Public vigil and flying flags at half mast done to honour slain prison guard

Maple Ridge corrections officer Bikramdeep Randhawa, 29, is being remembered in a number of ways

A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
A sign indicating face coverings are required by the establishment is pictured on the front door of a business in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to start releasing neighbourhood-specific COVID numbers after data leak

Documents obtained by the Vancouver Sun show cases broken down by neighbourhoods

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix update B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, April 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count creeps up, seven more deaths

445 people in hospital, 157 in intensive care

Summerland’s positive test rate is much higher than surrounding local health areas, according to internal BC CDC documents. (BC CDC)
Summerland 3rd behind Surrey, Abbotsford in daily per capita COVID-19 cases

Interior Health is rolling out additional vaccine availability to the community

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Amazon is pausing its Prime Day marketing event in Canada this year amid ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks at its facilities in Ontario. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Amazon Prime Day halted in Canada due to COVID-19 outbreaks in warehouses

The event was postponed to protect the health and safety of employees and customers, the company says

Ally Thomas, 12, seen in an undated family handout photo, died on April 14 from a suspected overdose. Her family says they are frustrated more public supports weren't available when they tried to get her help. THE CANADIAN PRESS
Minister says suspected overdose death of 12-year-old pushing B.C. to ‘do better’

Minister Sheila Malcolmson of Mental Health and Addictions says the government is working ‘as hard as we can’ to build a system of care for youths

Most Read