SURREY â€” Surrey Crime Prevention Society has received a massive increase in annual funding from the City of Surrey, jumping from $139,800 in 2014 to $285,300 for 2015.
Since its inception in 1982, the volunteer-based organization, which acts independently from the RCMP, has received funding from the city, the province and corporate sponsors.
Executive director Karen Reid Sidhu said the 300-plus volunteers with the organization act as "the eyes and ears" of police on the streets.
"Our volunteers work very hard, and we make a difference. We had 28,000 hours committed to the City of Surrey last year, and that’s an increase of roughly 10,000 (from 2013)."
Last year the organization made 431 calls to RCMP that generated files.
The group’s programming includes Community Safety Tours, Citizen’s Community Safety Watch (which runs from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m.), a Traffic Safety Program, graffiti removal, youth programs and more.
SCPS provides support at the annual Vaisakhi Parade, Fusion Festival, Cloverdale Rodeo and more. There are more than 95 events on the organization’s books for 2015, up from 69 last year.
The group prioritized Newton in 2014 following the tragic death of Julie Paskall, adding an additional day to its patrols in the area. Volunteers put in 3,850 hours through safety tours in Downtown Newton last year.
"When we were asked to participate in Newton, we stepped up," Reid Sidhu said. "I wanted the community to feel that there was a cohesive effort in answers to their fears."
While that was a temporary measure, she noted the group’s efforts are very much alive in Newton, and the group is working closely with the newly established BIA in the area.
Reid Sidhu, who has been with the organization for two-and-a-half years, has introduced a variety of programming since she took the reigns and said future growth potential to enhance community safety is huge, thanks to the new city dollars.
Community Safety Tours will be increasing, including expansion into new neighbourhoods such as Cloverdale and South Surrey, and service will now be offered five days a week instead of three. Citizen’s Community Safety Watches will also be increasing, jumping from two days a week to four. The traffic and speed program, as well as anti-graffiti work, will expand in 2015 as well.
The increase in funding will also help support SCPS’s mentorship and leadership program, which partners at-risk youth with leadership students, as well as the LEAP (Learn Experience Achieve Participate) work experience program.
Surrey RCMP Insp. Ghalib Bhayani, a community services officer, said SCPS’s work is invaluable.
"From their community safety tours to their traffic safety and anti-graffiti programs, SCPS volunteers play an important role in crime reduction and community safety," Bhayani said. "We rely on volunteer organizations like these to be that extra set of eyes and ears in our community."