Surrey council sends back ‘ambiguous’ RCMP crime reduction targets

SURREY — City council sent the city’s top cop back to the drawing board after reviewing his “ambiguous” crime-reduction targets for the next two years.

Chief Supt. Bill Fordy presented council with the Surrey RCMP’s strategic framework for 2015-2017, which included a variety of goals such as reducing violent crime, property crime, B&Es and domestic violence rates by two per cent per year.

Fordy also laid out his goal to reduce auto crime by five per cent per year, and to reduce average call response times to eight minutes in 2016 and seven minutes in 2017.

After much discussion, Surrey council voted to receive Fordy’s report as information but sent it back to staff requesting “benchmarks,” essentially asking for crime rate averages for RCMP to work from, instead of striving toward a two per cent reduction over the previous year.

Coun. Bruce Hayne noted there was a massive spike in homicides in 2013, and that property crimes jumped last year. Working to reduce crime by two per cent after such anomalies wouldn’t be meaningful, according to Hayne.

A two per cent reduction from a five or 10-year average might be a better way to go, he said.

Coun. Tom Gill questioned Fordy on the targets themselves, asking why they weren’t higher given the 100 new officers the city has approved.

“That’s probably an increase of 20 per cent in terms of overall resources to policing,” he noted. “I find that the target of only having two per cent reduction given the resources that have been allocated, I find that to be really modest.”

Fordy said the 100 new officers will arrive over the course of the next year and “the reality is many of those new cadets will be partnered with trainers and it will take some time to gather experience and knowledge.

“(Saying) we will see an immediate 10 per cent reduction in crime, I don’t want to give a false impression to the general public. I think this will take time,” Fordy continued. “We talked, initially, about a five per cent reduction and what we wanted to do was be realistic in terms of our expectations.”

Gill said he wants to know where the city should be, and how it ranks against other municipalities.

“I’d like to see us below the average,” said Fordy, noting the Crime Severity Index is expected to be released in roughly 12 weeks. “It’s not lost on me that the demographics of our city, the socio-economic challenges that we face create challenges not only for law enforcement but for all the business lines. For me, to say we’ll be the best this year, I’m not sure that would be a realistic expectation.”

Coun. Dave Woods, a former cop, said he was “uncomfortable” with the targets laid out in the report.

“I’m of the view that this does require some more work,” Woods said.

He’d prefer to see the force work from a 10-year average.

“This document here, I’m a little uncomfortable with because if we get the spikes up, it doesn’t mean we should start reducing from that… I think it’s really important we get those measurables nailed down,” Woods continued. “I just find this a little ambiguous.”

Staff has now been put to work to find ways to find baseline targets to work from.

amy.reid@thenownewspaper.com

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