A group of people protesting against policing costs says funding should instead go toward social services.
Dozens of people gathered outside of Surrey City Hall on Saturday (Nov. 24). The group calls themselves “Anti-Police Power Surrey,” according to Isabel Krupp a member of the new organization.
“We formed because we saw that massive amounts of city funding are being spent on police. Right now we have the largest RCMP detachment in the whole country, and our new city government is proposing a municipal force, which will be only more expensive,” she told the Now-Leader.
Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum previously said “first of all, the city owns all the equipment, all the cars, all the community policing stations. The city also has its own staff, always has, CUPE staff that does all the administration for the RCMP. So the only thing we’re looking at is the officers’ salaries.”
With the city’s current contract with the RCMP, Surrey pays 90 per cent of the RCMP’s costs, and the federal government pays 10 per cent.
McCallum added the city would “readjust (its) budget” to cover remaining costs.
Krupp said that the city should “divest from police” and instead “invest in our communities and solutions that will actually make us safer, like social housing, youth programs, our schools and other social services.”
After rallying outside of the north entrance to city hall (the city’s tree-lighting festival was taking place on the south side of the building), the group stopped traffic and marched along 104th Avenue, turning left on King George Boulevard, stopping at the City Centre detachment.
— sarah (@_sarah2021_) November 24, 2018
Krupp said she saw in the Oct. 20 civic election the question of “municipal (police) or RCMP as a diversion from what we think should be the question: ‘Why are we spending so much money on police in the first place?’”
Krupp said crime rates are down.
“Violent crime, specifically, is dropping. Surrey is only the 63rd most dangerous city in terms of violent crime.”
According to the RCMP’s most recent statistics, in the first nine months of 2018 there were 4,266 violent crimes, nine homicides, nine attempted murders, 193 robberies, 267 sexual assaults, 2,207 assaults, 48 kidnappings and 20,259 property-related crimes in Surrey. There were also 7,854 in other Criminal Code offences, such as breaching court orders, bail violations, causing a disturbance and weapons offences.
Comparatively, in the first nine months of 2017 in Surrey there were 4,263 violent crimes, 10 homicides, nine attempted murders, 250 robberies, 284 sex offences, 2,226 assaults, 51 kidnappings and 22,319 property related crimes. There were also 5,865 in other Criminal Code offences, such as breaching court orders, bail violations, causing a disturbance and weapons offences.
— Surrey RCMP (@SurreyRCMP) November 7, 2018
Krupp said the media says Surrey is “scary,” “dangerous,” and the city is “getting more and more violent.”
“We’re saying, ‘That’s not true,’ but even if it was, police aren’t actually going to make us any safer.”
The goal of Saturday’s rally and march, Krupp said, is “to interrupt this narrative that police are the only thing that make us safer and that we need to spend more and more money on policing.”
Following the rally, McCallum told the Now-Leader he wasn’t aware of the rally that took place outside of city hall. He added that it’s a “free society” and people “can march for whatever they happen to believe in.”
When asked for comment of the organization’s thoughts on what should instead be funded, McCallum said he couldn’t answer because he wasn’t there and couldn’t say for himself what the people were marching for.
– with files from Tom Zytaruk