British Columbia

Surrey needs its own independent police force, says SFU criminologist

A Simon Fraser University professor says Surrey needs a larger police force that is independently controlled.

'For many years, Surrey has been under resourced. It's under policed'

An SFU criminologist says more police officers will go a long way towards fixing Surrey's crime problem. (Gian-Paolo Mendoza/CBC)

A B.C. criminology professor says the Surrey RCMP is too understaffed to adequately deal with the city's growth — a problem that could be partly addressed, he says, if the city had its own independent police force.

His comments come after June saw three shooting deaths in the city, including the death of Paul Bennett who was gunned down in broad daylight on Saturday.

"The challenge is that, for many years, Surrey has been under resourced. It's under policed," said professor Curt Taylor Griffiths, the co-ordinator of Simon Fraser University's Police Studies Program at the Surrey campus.

"The RCMP in Surrey needs 400 more officers today."

Griffiths said the city requires a dynamic police force full of seasoned officers who are equipped with the training needed to tackle the city's unique issues, such as gang violence.

While Griffiths acknowledged that it would be challenging to fully train such officers in a short amount of time, he said it would be easier if the city had its own self-controlled, independent police force.

The problem with an RCMP municipal detachment is that they share funding with other cities and often can't afford to bring on more officers, said Griffiths.

Also, a municipal detachment has no control over which officers come and how long they stay with the force, he said.

If Surrey had an independent force, said Griffiths, they would have a police board, could hire and fire a police chief and would be able to hire officers who work in Surrey for their entire career.

"A lot RCMP officers policing in Surrey aren't from Surrey and won't be staying in Surrey," said Griffiths.

"That presents a challenge in terms of the officers knowing the community and being invested in the community."

Additionally, under resourcing a police department takes a huge toll on the officers health and well-being, he said.

Griffiths said that if the Surrey detachment had more resources, it could be involved in more crime-prevention initiatives similar to Vancouver's Bar Watch.

"Part of it is having the personnel, the other part of the equation is deploying them effectively."

With files from The Early Edition

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