Surrey’s top cop is asking for 47 more cops on top of the 95 additional officers already promised by the city over the next three years.
The request from Surrey RCMP Chief Supt. Bill Fordy – which was endorsed by the city’s police committee Tuesday afternoon – is based on two recent studies of Surrey RCMP services commissioned by the city this year.
It will bring to 142 the number of police on order Surrey over the next three years.
How those extra Mounties will be funded is yet to be determined. If the money was to come by way of taxes only, it would represent a property tax increase of 8.52 per cent,or $128 on the average home worth $640,000.
The Leader first revealed in August that the number of general duty officers on any given shift in Surrey is about 36. The news prompted an angry reaction from the public that insisted the city hire more police officers to patrol the streets.
Most mayoral platforms are now calling for marked increases in the number of police.
The ruling civic party, Surrey First, initially called for an additional 95 officers within the next three years. It recently increased that number to 100.
Now, the Mounties are requesting an extra 47 officers on top of that, based on the results of the two reports, which also talked about the number of general duty officers on the street and their response times.
The first item in Dr. Irwin Cohen’s report on the Surrey RCMP is titled “Additional Members Are Required for General Duty.“
Cohen, a professor of criminology for the University of the Fraser Valley (UFV), was commissioned by the city to look at policing earlier this year. He said in his report that given Surrey’s growth, current staffing is insufficient.
“Surrey is a growing municipality with crime problems that are underscored by substance abuse, mental health issues and gang involvement,” Cohen said. “… the current staffing levels in GD (general duty) are insufficient given the workload demands.“
Police management consultant Peter Bellmio authored another report for the Surrey Mounties called “General Duty Staffing Assessment” and noted the workload for Surrey RCMP officers is growing.
Bellmio points out that calls for service for general duty officers grew by 10.4 per cent from 2008 to 2013.
He also found for several reasons, the response time to emergency calls by Surrey RCMP is a bit slower than other jurisdictions.
Many North American cities have found average emergency response time is seven minutes, Bellmio wrote. The emergency response times in Surrey last year averaged 8.5 minutes. Urgent calls were nearly 12 minutes and routine calls were more than an hour-and-a-half. Reasons can include delays by dispatch and travel time.
For solutions, Bellmio focused on some strategic changes required by Surrey Mounties to achieve more proactive policing. But he also touched on the benefit of hiring more police officers
Surrey First is expected to announce its crime platform on Wednesday morning.
The election will be held on Saturday, Nov. 15.