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LETTER: Policing fiasco was missed opportunity that cost Surrey millions

From now on, discussions on public safety should be more diverse, not limited to policing
(Photo: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy)

The Editor,

What a missed opportunity.

The debates over policing in Surrey could have provided the opportunity for a thoughtful and well-considered deliberation on community wellbeing in the city.

An opportunity was missed for seriously addressing structural conditions – housing costs, poverty, youth unemployment, toxic drug supplies – that impact wellbeing.

Instead, the policing issue needlessly became a fiasco, limited to an unhelpful dichotomy in which choices were posed as either the RCMP or a municipal force.

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This dichotomy marginalized considerations of other social resources that contribute to public safety and wellbeing and how they might be negatively impacted by a further diversion of public resources into more policing – as in the tens of millions spent, and now apparently wasted, on a police transition.

Formal politics too became unfortunately caught in this dichotomy with Brenda Locke and her slate siding with the RCMP against Doug McCallum and his slate’s commitment to the Surrey Police Service. A politics of team sports.

Once again, broader approaches to public safety were relegated to the margins.

One outcome is certain. That is that hundreds of millions of dollars that could have gone to community-based resources and services for community wellbeing in Surrey have been squandered. An opportunity gone up in smoke.

We can only hope that discussions on public safety going forward will be more diverse and not limited to policing.

Dr. Jeff Shantz, Surrey

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