RCMP warn of 'detrimental effect' on services and officers' health from new Surrey budget

Surrey's top cop is warning the city's newly passed budget will hurt policing services and the health of officers.

For the second straight year there is no money allocated for new officers, despite the city's growing population.

"...it is important that we acknowledge the detrimental effect this will have on our service delivery model and on the health and wellness of our members and municipal support staff," Assistant Commissioner Dwayne McDonald said in a statement.

The budget passed Surrey city council Monday night in a close 5-4 vote, despite opposition from a loud and passionate crowd.

Surrey's 2020 budget includes an average 2.9 per cent property tax increase — approximately $59 for the average single-family home, staff estimate — along with $45 million to help pay for the transition to an independent police force, while the RCMP is still in operation.

McDonald says he asked for 12 additional officers for 2019, but the city denied his request and it was made clear to him, that more police resources "would not be entertained" while the city awaits final provincial approval of its municipal police service.

Over the last year, he says the forces has seen a three per cent increase in calls for services and a 3.6 per cent rise in case files.

The disparity between demands and resources may require redeploying staff from community-based, crime prevention programs to essential services like frontline policing, he says.

Violent crime rates dropped to a decade-low in 2018, according to Surrey RCMP but rose in 2019. McDonald says there can't be an expectation of a decrease in crime in a growing city without relative resources.

Mayor's response

During a news conference after Monday's vote, Mayor Doug McCallum said both the police and fire chiefs told him safety could be maintained at current levels.

"Both of them assured me we could get by this year and continue to make our city safe by the same number of officers we have now," said McCallum.

He says the joint Surrey-B.C. committee overseeing the policing transition process is set to finish its work on a transition report by Dec. 11 before it ends up in the hands of the public safety minister.