24 new police officers to crack down on crime in Surrey
Mayor Dianne Watts rolls out new initiatives, but NDP say it's not enough
Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts says her city will be "relentless" in letting criminals know they're not welcome, in line with a report into the crackdown on the city's high murder rate.
Watts made the comments Friday as she unveiled the recommendations made by her Task Force on Crime, which was created in November to look for solutions, amid public outrage over the high crime rate.
She said new initiatives will include adding 24 police officers over the next two years and a permanent six-member bike squad, which will start training Monday.
The extra officers are expected to cost the city $300,000 in 2014 and $600,000 in 2015. The city will also expand its CCTV program and use licence plate readers to identify stolen vehicles.
RCMP Supt. Bill Fordy said more than 140 arrests have been made since the police started a crackdown on nuisance properties, resulting in dozens of charges, and there are no immediate plans to cut back on increased patrols in the Newton area.
NDP says more resources needed
However, NDP Surrey MLA Harry Bains says it's not enough.
We need to have a real emphasis put on hiring more police officers than what's being announced," he said. We still need to deal with recovery homes that are still going on unregulated.
"We still don't have anything concrete about the community court. We have nothing to address mental health issues."
Bains says he applauds the effort, but Surrey is going to be the largest Lower Mainland city in just a few years and more needs to be done.
The task force, which included the mayor, police, school board officials, a criminologist and other experts, was formed just before the death of Julie Paskall, a hockey mom who was savagely beaten outside the Newton Arena in late December as she waited to pick up her son from hockey practice.
Following Paskall's murder, Central Surrey residents came forward with a litany of safety complaints including inadequate lighting and the location of a bus loop they say is notorious for shady activity.
A total of 25 people were murdered in Surrey in 2013, and community outrage over Paskall's death put even more pressure on the city to deal with violent crime.
In the wake of her killing, nearly 50 police officers were deployed to Newton and Whalley and security was increased around the Newton Town Centre.