Re: “Does Surrey need its own police force?” Now-Leader, Sept. 21.
Discussion about the nature and future of policing in Surrey is important and something that seriously needs to be undertaken.
It is good that the Now-Leader is giving some of that discussion an extended focus.
Unfortunately too much of the debate over policing in Surrey is framed in a limiting way, setting the boundaries of discussion according to the wrong question.
The real issue is not, “Does Surrey need its own police force?”
What we really need to ask is this – why are solutions to social problems posed predominantly as matters of policing in the first place? And a related question might be – why are we so willing to fund police at such high levels rather than necessary social services and resources that receive comparatively less?
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The article notes that from 2012 to 2018, the RCMP grew from 661 officers and a cost of $101 million to 835 officers and $160 million.
Mayoral candidate Tom Gill puts that at one-third of the city’s operating budget. That is going to policing functions alone.
Much more than funds for community groups and resources that can build the relationships and supports that make communities safer long term and stop social harms before they happen.
Yet those who want a municipal force are willing to spend even more, including $50 million in transition costs, on policing.
This is getting it all wrong. More police do not reduce crime, let alone stop it. They do not make communities more safe (but may make them more dependent on police).
We really need to ask how we might defund police and properly fund the community resources (schools, community centres, groups, projects) that really build our safety and security, and which so desperately need funding.
Dr. Jeff Shantz, Surrey