Surrey’s top cop says he’s “going to snap” if he has to “listen to one more ex-chief of police on life support, or some fallen-from-grace former public official with an axe to grind, or uninformed academic, call into question the integrity and the professionalism and the dedication of the men and women of the Surrey RCMP.”
Assistant Commissioner Dwayne McDonald made the comments during the 2019 Police Officer of the Year Awards on Thursday (Oct. 10). It was the first time the awards have been held since Surrey council voted to transition from RCMP to a municipal force last November.
As a police force, McDonald said “you often battle perception versus reality.”
“And yes, you become a target and a lightning rod for criticism – some deserved and some not,” he said.
“Policing a large city, we’ve been doing it since 1951. And I would challenge any other large city in this country, to police with the resources that we do, and do a better job. And just saying, if you want more boots on the ground, give me more boots. Gotta get that off my chest, I digress.”
In last year’s budget cycle, Surrey council voted to freeze the hiring of any new officers for the Surrey RCMP in 2019, despite McDonald requesting more Mounties be added to the force.
In 2018, 12 officers were hired which brought the force to 843 members.
The Now-Leader contacted the Mayor’s Office Friday morning to inquire if the mayor intended to continue the freeze in this year’s budget cycle, which is underway right now. This story will be updated if a response is received.
Last year, as council considered the budget, Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum said he and the majority of council are “comfortable that the RCMP will continue to keep Surrey safe,” despite the hiring freeze in the budget that was approved in a split 5-4 vote last December.
McDonald told the Now-Leader at the time that while he feels “confident the city is safe,” he said Surrey “could be safer” with increased resources.
“I think that we could be safer in the sense that an increase in resources will allow us to expand many of our successful programs, certainly in the areas of proactive policing and also with our gang enforcement team and just in general duty patrol and traffic where we see all of our significant concerns,” McDonald said.
The Officer in Charge has also said the “Surrey RCMP could use a significant increase in police and supporting resources in order to keep pace with the city’s growth and to meet legitimate public expectations.”
-With files from Tom Zillich