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Surrey hits pause on hiring new RCMP officers, councillor calls move 'risk to public safety'

Last Updated Dec 18, 2018 at 6:38 am PST

(Photo courtesy Surrey RCMP)

Surrey councillor calls the city's hiring freeze at the RCMP a 'risk to public safety'

Surrey's newly approved budget will see the hiring of 12 new RCMP officers put on the back burner

SURREY (NEWS 1130) – Hockey players in Cloverdale won’t be getting a new rink anytime soon, and other capital projects have been axed — for now, at least — after Surrey city council passed its controversial budget on Monday.

The budget will see a number of planned projects put on pause, and that includes the hiring of an additional 12 RCMP officers.

It’s a move at least one councillor believes puts the public at risk.

Jack Hundial is a former Mountie himself and voted against the draft budget, citing concerns.

“Every month here we talk about it, we grow in other areas, we grow in our services to the parks, to recs, so I really question the logic behind not staffing with even an additional 12 members.”

Despite plans for a municipal police department, Hundial believes the timeline behind the project is debatable.

“The mayor is responsible for public safety. So do I think in two years we’re going to have the ability to staff up a new Surrey police force? I don’t think so.”

Hundial says as the population continues to grow, the RCMP needs to keep up, despite plans for it to be replaced in that city.

“There’s been a motion in council to switch to a municipal police force and serve notice on the RCMP. That’s all that’s happened so far. That still needs to be approved provincially and other levels of government for that to happen.”

Mayor Doug McCallum has been vocal about his push to replace the RCMP in Surrey with a municipal police force, with a timeline of two years, as mentioned.

Hundial, who served as an RCMP officer for 25 years says the transition, if there were to be one, can’t be rushed, and adds issues like staffing, and mandate are major points to consider.

McCallum is expected to meet with the RCMP this week to discuss the planned transition.

Deputy Commissioner Brenda Butterworth-Carr says she looks forward to the discussion with Surrey’s mayor, but has a few questions to ask him.

“All I can speak from is the current service provider, and our position of making sure that however we manage this, it will be done well with the sole goal of public safety in mind,” she told NEWS 1130 on Monday.

Butterworth-Carr adds her focus, right now, is to ensure she’s doing what she can to support her officers.

“I’m very proud of them, very confident that they’re going to deliver a great service,” she added.

In November, the Surrey RCMP said shootings had declined by about half since a spike three years ago. Mounties added homicide rates remained relatively steady, and said enforcement in several areas had increased.

-With files from the Canadian Press