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9/10 people in Surrey support municipal force, consultations find: city staff

Last Updated Jun 24, 2019 at 4:43 pm PST

FILE - The city says public consultations held to gauge support for the police transition show 93 per cent of people in Surrey are ready to go ahead. (Source: Twitter/@CityofSurrey)

Numbers show more than 11,000 survey responses were filled out

93 per cent said the police department should be "locally led" 

98 per cent of respondents "want police officers to build their career in Surrey, so they know the community well"

SURREY (NEWS 1130) – According to city staff, public consultations have found nine out of ten people in Surrey support replacing the RCMP with a municipal police force.

In a press release on Monday, the City of Surrey said that’s the outcome of the 23 public consultations on the transition it held over a five-week period. Numbers show more than 11,000 survey responses were filled out, with 93 per cent agreeing the police department should be “locally led.”

The survey also found 98 per cent of respondents “want police officers to build their career in Surrey, so they know the community well.”

Surrey City Councillor Linda Annis, who is in favour of keeping the RCMP, says she believes the questions asked were “slanted.”

“The survey wasn’t done based on any facts,” she says. “When most of the public engagement was done, it was done before the police report was even made public, so I don’t know how people could be expressing opinion on a report or on a transition plan that they have not yet seen.”

Annis says it’s hard to accept 93 per cent of the more than 11,000 responses collected are truly in favour of making the switch, because people were asked if they support having a “locally led” police force.

RELATED: Surrey councillor concerned police transition will reduce services for child victims of abuse

“I think that question is very slanted and misleading and certainly doesn’t capture the true reflection of how people in Surrey are feeling. Certainly, when I’ve been attending public engagement sessions, that isn’t what we were hearing. What we were hearing is that there was a lack of public consultation, people don’t know what they’re getting. All they know is they’re getting less officers for more money.”

She believes a referendum should be held.

“People are very concerned about not having the facts and what we are hearing is there’s going to be less officers, but it’s going to cost us more. They don’t know what the transition means and they’re being asked questions about something that they’re not familiar with,” Annis says.

In a statement, Mayor Doug McCallum says the results “speak volumes about the overwhelming support.” The final say comes from Solicitor General Mike Farnworth, who is suggesting the current transition plan needs work, but McCallum hopes a decision is made soon.

“We have a detailed plan in place, and we are ready and eager to start work on the formation of a Surrey Police Department,” McCallum said.

More details are slated to be made public when the full report goes to council in mid-July.