Surrey resident Darlene Bennett, whose husband Paul was murdered in Cloverdale in 2018, takes the city to task for lack of transparency in its plan to replace the RCMP with a made-in-Surrey police force. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)

Guest Column: My murdered husband’s voice must be heard on Surrey policing transition

Taxpayers deserve information and answers, Darlene Bennett argues

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I have been contemplating Surrey’s planned policing transition for awhile. I have held my opinions and concerns. I have reached out only once to have my questions answered and waited months for the reply, only to receive a very standard generalized response.

I have wasted so much time and energy trying to figure out what the right course of action should be for the City of Surrey’s policing. I have read, I have Googled, I have sought to be an informed citizen. How could I not? I have a vested interest in the outcome of this plan.

My husband was murdered at our home, in our driveway, nearly a year ago, on June 23, 2018.

It was a case of mistaken identity. How horrendous is that? To be brutally murdered for doing nothing more than having a similar appearance to the person these criminals were after? My family’s safety is at the forefront and my greatest concern. If this could happen to Paul, then it could happen to anyone. No one is safe.

I have been waiting patiently for the information on the mayor’s police transition plan to come forward, but to no avail. I have reached an impasse. Paul’s voice needs to be heard. The safety of Surrey’s citizens is in peril.

I am angry, disappointed and alarmed with the mayor of Surrey, Doug McCallum. His lack of transparency regarding the transition to a Surrey police force from the RCMP is disheartening.

READ ALSO: Surrey residents voice disappointment with Surrey’s first public consult on policing plan

READ ALSO: Cloverdale’s Paul Bennett remembered for ‘the biggest heart’

READ ALSO: Grieving widow slams Surrey’s policing consultation process

This is a monumental change in matters of public safety. Taxpayers deserve information and answers. Knowledge gives you the power to make informed decisions. The promises are just an illusion right now that have no context for me to support. I cannot fathom the reason for this “closed door” policy on this matter. It is not good leadership, and it makes me question his motive.

I have received no assurances from the mayor that this transition will not jeopardize Paul’s right to justice. Mayor McCallum and the City of Surrey will be held accountable.

I am shocked that the mayor and council have elected not to approve additional funding to provide the RCMP with more officers. We still need an active police force. The murders just keep on happening. There has been too much loss and it needs to stop.

Surrey is greatly understaffed in the police-to-population ratio com-pared to Vancouver, and Surrey has a higher crime index. Where is the logic in that?

The promise of a “Safe Surrey” was just a ploy for votes.

The criminals are not going to wait for the mayor’s “plan” to transition. We need help now.

Any prudent human being would acknowledge that, but I guess a human life doesn’t mean that much to the mayor and this truly angers me.

I have been through big changes in health care over the years and know that change can be difficult but can provide opportunity and growth especially when you have a voice. This is not the case with McCallum’s plan.

I really don’t feel a municipal police force is the answer. It is only a change of uniform and at great cost. I feel the money would be better spent investing in officers, appropriate technology, like the intersection cameras being able to take readable images and sup-porting what we already have, the Surrey RCMP, then starting from ground zero with little insight into what the powers that be have in hand.

Call it fear of the unknown, grief, whatever you want, but I have no assurances otherwise that a change would make any difference at all to my safety.

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