Crime is in the crosshairs of Surrey mayoral candidates, but are their promises of more police officers even possible?
Surrey First mayoral candidate Linda Hepner has vowed to hire 147 police officers, with at least 100 coming over the next two years.
And Safe Surrey Coalition’s Doug McCallum is asking for 95 extra officers as part of his crime-fighting platform.
But can Surrey get them?
At RCMP training depot in Regina, which provides newly minted Mounties for the entire country, has hit critical lows since 2008.
Six years ago 1,783 cadets had enrolled, with 1,258 graduating.
That number dropped to 340 in 2013.
Depot told The Leader that number has come back up to 960 this year, but the figure is still lower than what it was in 2008.
NDP MP for Newton-North Delta Jinny Sims says the drop in recruitment numbers does not bode well for Surrey.
“I keep saying – we have a growing city, and more people means a need for more police to keep our streets safe,” Sims said. “Of course we need buy-in from Ottawa. The declining number of RCMP graduates is alarming for everyone.”
Figures show that since 2008, Surrey has never received more than two per cent of the total graduates leaving Regina.
Using that number, with the full 960 graduating this year, that would mean Surrey would receive 19 officers.
That’s far less than the 147 officers the City of Surrey and RCMP Officer in Charge Bill Fordy are asking for (see story page 3).
Fordy told The Leader Tuesday he’s received assurance from E-Division (the regional RCMP headquarters) that he can get the officers he’s requesting.
“Why would I request more than I can get?” he asked.
Mayoral candidate Coun. Barinder Rasode says she doubts Surrey First can get all the Mounties they want.
She believes it will take them five years to fill those positions.
“Surrey needs police right now,” she said.
Rasode plans to hire 200 community safety personnel (unarmed trained officers) immediately. She said they would be recruited and trained locally.
Surrey First mayoral candidate Coun. Linda Hepner said she would augment the numbers from Regina with people recruited locally.
Those officers would be trained RCMP that would come back to Surrey after training.
“Surrey residents deserve cops with guns,” Hepner said.