SURREY – The Conservative government has approved Surrey’s request for 100 more police officers and has also earmarked $3.5
million toward the Surrey Gang Reduction Program over the next five years.
But local NDP MPs are slamming the government for not revealing when the new Mounties will arrive.
"Are they going to be here before the election, or after the election?" Jasbir Sandhu, NDP MP for Surrey North, demanded.
The federal election is set for Oct. 19, 2015.
Sandhu noted Surrey has been asking Ottawa for more officers since hockey mom Julie Paskall was killed in Newton. She was attacked on Dec. 29, 2013 and died two days later.
"We need immediate resources," he said.
As for the $3.5 million, Nina Grewal, Tory MP for Fleetwood-Port Kells, said the money will provide roughly 400 atrisk youth ages 11 to 19
in Surrey with life skills "to help them move away and keep them from violence and the gang lifestyle.
"Lately our streets have become a battle ground for rival gangs and drug dealers, with the violence reaching near crisis proportions," Grewal said. "This gang violence is unacceptable and demands action."
Sandhu, however, said this is not new money.
"This is not additional money," he said. "It’s continuing the same program onwards, that’s all it is."
Moreover, he said, the $3.8 million is not taking into Surrey’s growth in the months and years to come. "There’s no additional funding in here to the violence that’s happened in Surrey," Tuesday’s announcement comes after 27 shootings in a span of 10 weeks in Surrey and North Delta.
Jinny Sims, NDP MP for Newton-North Delta, said the government should provide a specific timeline to allay Surrey residents worries about recent shootings here.
"We don’t even know when that money is coming and what it can be used for," Sims said. "We need the timeline."
Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner said she’s pleased with the news.
"It’s an unprecedented ask that we’ve made," she noted.
Hepner said she has "every faith" that the government will quickly deliver the new officers, expecting a mix of new recruits and experienced officers.
"We’ve had 32 (new officers) in the last couple months, so we know they’ll roll them in as quickly as they can."
She noted the contract stipulates they must deliver within 12 months.
"They will be participating in our model of neighbourhood policing," Hepner said when asked how the officers will be deployed. "And they will be added to the youth unit for after school, they will be added to the bicycle unit and I think some general deployment duties as well."
With files from Amy Reid