Gang-fighting budget cuts called ‘reckless,’ ‘unacceptable’

SURREY – There has been a flurry of reaction following news Wednesday that the B.C. RCMP is facing $4.2 million in provincial funding cuts for the coming year.


In an emailed statement Wednesday, Deputy Commissioner Craig Callens said the B.C. force has already cut down on travel, administrative and training costs in recent years, and the only area in which to find savings is policing services.


Callens said he’s being forced to cut $2.8 million from the budget for the anti-gang Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit (CFSEU), eliminating 12 positions. The Major Crimes program, which handles murders and missing persons cases, will see $1.4 million in cuts including the reduction of 13 full-time investigators.


The BC NDP called the cuts "reckless," saying in a release the cuts will "hinder law enforcement in their efforts to crack down on motorcycle gangs and other criminal gangs and leave more murders and missing persons cases unsolved."


Coun. Linda Hepner, currently acting mayor, said she was "astonished at the provincial cuts," seeing as she and Surrey RCMP’s Officer in Charge had no notice they were coming.


Hepner, who is running for mayor in the upcoming election, met with RCMP officials Wednesday after hearing of the cuts.


"What I wanted to find out was how that was going to impact our number one propriety, which is public safety. When we’ve been going up in the last three years from $105 million annually to $123 million annually and I then see that someone else is going down, that really gives me great concern," she said of the budget cuts. "So I wanted to know, and the OIC will be determining, how that may affect us."


Hepner said she plans to work with the OIC, and other mayors and councils.


She said the city "cannot continue to accept downloading."


"If that’s what it translates into, that would be unacceptable. We have to draw line."


Hepner she will be "strongly, definitely, purposefully, quickly" lobbying the province to reverse its decision.


"We didn’t have any prior knowledge that this was going to happen. And I think therein lies a significant element of concern. We need to know what their intentions are and to be able to advocate for those before they happen, not after they happen. We’re partners in this and we need to build that partnership to be able to have those conversations early and to be able to affect the decision, not respond to the action."


Surrey RCMP Sgt. Dale Carr said the cuts don’t have a direct effect to any of the city’s police because of the municipal contract the detachment has with the city.


"Sort of, on the upside, if there is an upside to when things get cut, is if there are positions that are eliminated through these provincial cuts, we stand, as do other detachments, to gain some of that experience."


The detachment may look at recruiting some of those who lose their jobs to "bring that experience to Surrey." -With files from Vancouver Sun

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