Surrey’s top Mountie presented a report to city council on Monday afternoon indicating the number of Criminal Code offences in Surrey dropped by four per cent in 2018 compared to 2017, as the city continues to make its transition from the RCMP to its own city police force.
“The fourth quarter crime stats report demonstrates that collective efforts of the police, partners and the community are contributing to positive trends in terms of the incidence of crime,” Assistant Commissioner Dwayne McDonald, officer in charge of the Surrey RCMP, said in a report to the mayor and council at Monday’s public safety committee meeting.
Surrey council at its inaugural meeting on Nov. 5, 2018 served notice to the provincial and federal governments the city is terminating its contract with the RCMP – the local police force since May 1, 1951 – to set up its own force.
Mayor Doug McCallum appointed Dr. Terry Waterhouse, who also served as Surrey’s general manager of public safety, to oversee the transition, which is expected to take about two years.
Does McDonald see the recent stats as a vindication of Surrey RCMP’s record as a policing model?
“What I’d say, vindication or not, I think what it shows is that in the last several years our crime rate has trended down,” McDonald told the Now-Leader on Monday. “We’ve had significant decreases.
“We’ve had significant positive results this year and really, I would say it speaks to the quality of the work that the men and women of the RCMP are doing, and our support staff,” McDonald said. “We had 194,000 files this year, which is our highest ever, and yet we’ve managed to keep our crime continually going down. I don’t know about vindication, but I think it’s just we’ve done a good job.”
“My position has always been that we provide an incredible level of service given our budget and resources that we have and so I feel, I would say I feel confident we’re doing the right thing, based on our crime stats,” McDonald said.
During the civic election campaign, McCallum told the Now-Leader in September the RCMP was, in his opinion, “having a hard time addressing all the gun violence that’s going on. They don’t seem to be able to address these things.”
He also indicated at the time that he was not happy with Ottawa pulling the strings.
“The management of the Surrey RCMP reports directly to and takes direction from Ottawa,” McCallum noted. “The people in Ottawa don’t know what the real problems are in Surrey and on top of all that, the type of gun violence and drive-by shootings and everything, the police have got to get into those neighbourhoods and try to get them safe again, and by the time Ottawa deals with it and gives directions and so-forth, it just doesn’t work.”
Do these latest statistics, indicating a drop in crime in this city, in any way invite reconsideration of that plan?
“It’s stellar news from Dwayne today,” Councillor Brenda Locke said. “I think the report from the Surrey RCMP was good news for Surrey, it’s good for Surrey citizens to hear that kind of information, so I think it was a very positive report from the OIC (officer in charge).”
But does it change council’s mind about moving on from the RCMP to its own city police force?
Locke says it does not.
“I would say that’s an apples and oranges discussion,” she told the Now-Leader on Monday.
”When we looked at this a long time ago, it was about having more community involvement in the policing model and having our own police board and being able to direct the police force in Surrey. That’s quite different. I have always been, and I think most of council has been very positive about, the men and women that are doing the job on the ground in Surrey.
“This is more about the administrative role of the RCMP,” she said.
Locke said she’s nevertheless “really buoyed to see the very positive numbers for Surrey, and hopefully that alleviates some of the concern that citizens have about the safety of this city because the numbers were very good.”
According to the latest Surrey RCMP crime statistics, there were 42,206 Criminal Code offences in 2018 and 44,024 in 2017, making for a four per cent decrease, all told, with all districts seeing a drop in cases except Whalley – where the number of recorded crimes increased by two per cent.
The number of violent crime dropped by only three cases in 2018, to 5,645 from 5,648 in 2017. In 2018 Surrey recorded 10 attempted murders, and 15 the year prior. Last year there were 15 homicides, and 12 in 2017 .
The number of robberies in Surrey plummeted 22 per cent in 2018, to 268 from 342 in 2017. The number of sex crimes also dropped significantly, to 319 in 2018 from 388 in 2017 while there was no notable change in assaults – 2,912 in 2018 compared to 2,938 in 2017 – or abductions and kidnappings (66 in 2018 and 69 in 2017).
In 2018 there were 26,640 property crimes recorded in Surrey compared to 29,952 in 2017, making for an 11 per cent decrease. The total number of break-ins recorded in Surrey were 2,738 in 2018 compared to 3,338 in 2017, for an 18 per cent decrease. The police recorded 1,298 residential break-ins in 2018 and 1,582 in 2017. As for business break-ins, there were 1,066 recorded in 2018, and 1,324 in 2017.
The number of auto thefts in Surrey dived by 30 per cent, to 2,069 in 2018 compared to 2,968 in 2017. Also, the number of thefts from vehicles fell in the city from 2,397 files in 2017 to 1,793 last year.
McDonald also reported to the public safety committee that in the fourth quarter of 2018 the city saw a two per cent drop in violent crime and a 17 per cent drop in property related crime.
Also in 2018, the Surrey RCMP recorded 38 shots-fired cases, representing a 36 per cent drop compared to the 59 recorded in 2017. In 2016 there were 61, and in 2015 there were 88. So far this year, there have been three shootings in Surrey.
“The Surrey RCMP had done significant work in relation to the gang and drug-trafficking issues over the past year through a multi-pronged approach that covered enforcement, intervention, and prevention,” McDonald told council.
In the last six months of 2018, he reported, the Surrey Gang Enforcement Team, or SGET, checked 1,634 people, resulting in 91 charges, 21 vehicles being seized and 577 violation tickets.