White Rock’s top cop wants to “set the record straight” about how RCMP detachments like that of the seaside city are run.
Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls, during last week’s governance and legislation meeting at White Rock City Hall, told mayor and council myths and misinformation being circulated by “people in prominent positions” are damaging.
“Unfortunately, these comments are disingenuous and undermine confidence in police,” Pauls said in a statement.
“Confidence in police is a cornerstone of the effectiveness of police and our citizens’ pride in our service to White Rock.”
Pauls highlighted three myths of particular concern: that municipal RCMP detachments are governed from Ottawa; that mayor and council have little say in how the RCMP operates in their community; and, that RCMP are “rural police” not trained in city policing.
The provincial government announced late last month that the City of Surrey has been authorized to set up its own police force, a move the city’s mayor and council gave notice of immediately following their election in November 2018. Mayor Doug McCallum has said the reason for pursuing the direction was because Surrey’s growth “has taken us beyond the ability of the RCMP” to police.
Last month, Pauls told PAN that the changes in Surrey will not impact the effectiveness of policing in White Rock.
Regardless of who is policing the city next door, “we will continue to police White Rock in an effective manner,” he said.
Areas that will need to be addressed, however, include dispatch services and information technology support.
The March 12 meeting was scheduled to gain input from mayor and council on the detachment’s three-year strategic plan, which Pauls said is to be finalized around the beginning of April.
After his introduction, Pauls shared crime statistics from 2019 and themes that have guided the strategic plan so far, from community, municipal employee and officer feedback. Then, Pauls fielded comments from Couns. David Chesney, Helen Fathers, Anthony Manning and Mayor Darryl Walker.
Chesney’s areas of concerns included railway trespassing, keeping the community informed and school-zone speed enforcement.
With regards to the latter, Chesney wanted to know why more hadn’t been done after the first day of school ended with 28 tickets being handed out to drivers around White Rock Elementary.
“It just seems to me that 28 tickets in one day seemed to be an alarmingly high figure, which to me would indicate that there is a problem there,” Chesney said. “Not to be critical, but I think to do speed checks there… even just to send a car over there – just the presence of it is perhaps going to slow people down.
“Perhaps we can get the message to the community a little better.”
Pauls, who took the helm of the detachment in November, acknowledged there is currently “no robust plan” for the city’s school zones, Marine Drive or North Bluff Road, “but there will be after this (strategic) plan is finalized,” he said.
Chesney also asked that the detachment’s website be kept up-to-date, and that more information around crime trends, etc. be shared with council and the public.
“I’ve been a little dismayed in contacting the RCMP office. They say, well, follow us on Twitter,” he said. “I don’t accept that as a way to keep our community informed. The vast majority of our community doesn’t use Twitter.”
Positives Chesney noted included the detachment’s ‘Coffee With a Cop’ sessions, which provide an opportunity for citizens to chat face-to-face with an officer.
Pauls said he didn’t have immediate comment on the feedback, but said he felt that the strategic plan will “have something you’ll be satisfied with” in the majority of areas noted.
Manning said he’d like to see the plan include a section about “how our detachment is going to proceed independently of the Surrey Police Department.”
“A number of our residents are concerned about how the relationship with the Surrey Police Department will be built,” he said.
“Certainly, losing the RCMP detachment in Surrey will be a significant blow, not only for that community, but for ours as well, because you back them up, they back us up.
“The concern that I’ve been hearing, once the Surrey Police Department is in place, they may be less responsive to helping us out down here when needed.”
Pauls reiterated that he doesn’t foresee an issue with the relationship between White Rock and the new Surrey detachment, and pledged that communication “will be forefront with me.”