Loading articles...

Surrey city councillor 'relieved' municipal force moving ahead

Last Updated Aug 24, 2019 at 7:07 am PST

FILE - A Surrey Police cruiser sits outside the Cloverdale Recreation Centre during the first open house about creating an independent police force in Surrey. (Marcella Bernardo, NEWS 1130 Photo)

The new force is planned to be in place by April 2021

Elford says the cost of the new force won't be an issue

SURREY (NEWS 1130) – After years fighting for more front-line policing, the former head of the Newton Community Association is confident a new civic force will make Surrey safer.

The transition from the RCMP to the Surrey Police was approved by the province this week, set to be in place by April 2021.

Doug Elford says he knows it won’t happen overnight, but is relieved the Surrey Police is on the way.

“There’s a difference between more boots on the ground and more police officers on the force,” he says. “I would like to see a stronger presence, a more community-based policing system.”

RELATED: Surrey RCMP respond to being replaced with new police force

He says he’s confident the transition can happen within two years.

“It will be up and running. I’m pretty sure. If you look at the timelines, how fast we’ve gotten to this point, it’s really, really amazing for a provincial government to move this quick,” he says. “I’m hopeful we can meet our timelines. I know they’re ambitious but so far, we’ve been hitting our numbers pretty good, so hopefully we can get it up and running as fast as we can.”

Critics have raised concerns that a municipal force will cost more but put fewer officers on the ground. Councillors Linda Annis, Jack Hundial, Steven Pettigrew, and Brenda Locke are among those who have raised their concerns about what a municipal force would mean for residents.

Elford says the cost won’t be an issue.

“They say that about everything. Nobody likes to pay more taxes. That’s something that is encompassed in the overall budget when we look at it through the budgeting process.”

Mounties in Surrey have issued a statement promising to keep doing their jobs with “compassion, dedication and pride.”

With files from Martin MacMahon and Hana Mae Nassar.