Surrey First unveils its election platform

Promised increase of Mounties will reduce the city's police per capita ratio.

Surrey First's platform calls for more police

Surrey First is vowing to hire 30 more police officers in the next three years, but according to population figures obtained from B.C. Statistics, Surrey will have fewer officers per capita under that plan.

With the promise of 30 more officers, at a total cost of $3.9 million over the next three years, Surrey will fall short of  the ratio of police officers to residents it currently has, and will drop far behind the policing ratio per population the city had five years ago.

In 2006, city financial reports indicated Surrey had one officer per 725 people, slightly better than the national average of communities policed by the RCMP. At the time, there was a drive to get the ratio down to one officer per 700 residents.

Since then, the police per population has slipped to one officer per 755 people.

And by 2014, when Surrey will be home to 520,135 people, the police per population figure will drop further, to one per 764 residents – even with the 30 extra officers.

To keep its current police ratio of one for 755, Surrey would have to hire 38 more officers, at a cost of $4.94 million. To get to the levels in 2006, Surrey would have to hire 72 more police officers over the next three years, tapping the city coffers for $9.36 million.

Surrey First’s Mayor Dianne Watts said the city has set a target of one officer per 750 people.

“We will sit down with the RCMP and do the analysis around the integrated units and the impact the expansion of the Community Safety Officers has,” Watts said Monday.

Community Safety Officers are under the command of the RCMP, but do not carry guns.

“What they do is work within the community, so it lets the police officers do other things,” Watts said.

The promise of new police officers came as part of Surrey First’s re-election platform released this week promising safer streets, transportation as well as job creation and investment.

The list of promises includes a Child Advocacy Centre, where children under 16 can seek help for issues relating to abuse. The centre is expected to be up and running as soon as February, 2012.

Surrey First is also promising 12 more firefighters over the next three years.

In addition, if elected, the group says there will be more programs for those most at risk, while expanding recreation opportunities for youth.

Surrey First is also promising to advocate for more schools and establish a community court.

Surrey began calling for a community court in 2007, but got little headway from the province which was busy running a pilot program in Vancouver.

The city has been pressing hard to get one here as well.

The Surrey First platform says it will renew its call for the community court in this city.

Watts said she had assurances from former premier Gordon Campbell that one would be built here, now she will meet with Premier Christy Clark to ensure that promise will be kept.

The mayor’s group is also focusing on transportation this election, promising to move forward with light rail and rapid bus transit over the Port Mann Bridge.

And regarding the economy, Surrey First will be supporting the expansion of Surrey Fraser Docks and several recreation facilities in the city.

kdiakiw@surreyleader.com