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Surrey police transition will have limited impact on White Rock – detachment commander

Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls says files increased last year but city remains a ‘very safe place to live’
In his annual report White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls says he believes the Surrey police transition will have minimal impact on city police operations. (File photos)

White Rock RCMP detachment commander Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls said he doesn’t see the current transition in Surrey policing from RCMP to a municipal force posing significant challenges for the city by the sea.

Pauls made the comments while presenting the White Rock RCMP 2021 annual report to council on Feb. 28.

Council heard that files were up last year, but that White Rock is still a very safe place to be.

“In my view, there’s a low-risk impact to White Rock operationally (from the Surrey transition),” he said. “For us, it’s primarily a transition of contracted support services, such as our information technology support, network servers, building security and CCTV.”

Pauls said the White Rock detachment is continuing contracted dispatching calls with Surrey RCMP at this point.

“Mutual assistance, when requested, is legislated by the Police Act, and, regardless of that, we will have a professional relationship with whoever is policing next door to us.”

White Rock detachment strength is currently at 26 funded RCMP positions, including a serious crime unit, 10 full-time municipal employees, plus numerous casual employees and volunteers.

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In 2021 the detachment had 7,414 call-for-service files, he said, up from 6,905 in 2020 and 6,607 in 2019.

Pauls said that, while the data does not indicate the reason for the increase, he believes “growth of the community, in new condos getting occupied, is likely a factor.”

He commented that, regardless of financial situation of residents, “the demand for police service still exists in the form of family disputes, frauds, thefts, intimate partner violence an other offences.”

“Overall White Rock is a very safe place to live and be in,” he noted, however.

Pauls said that, of calls to the detachment in 2021, 23 per cent were community disturbances or suspicious incidents reported by residents; while 18 per cent were false 911 or building alarm calls.

“This is an issue in pretty much every policing jurisdiction of having an excessive amount of false 911 calls – typically pocket dials from cellphones,” he said.

Some 12 per cent are general assistance calls from the public, he added, or assisting other police agencies with investigations that have a connection to White Rock, while another 12 per cent relate to property crime, frauds – mostly by telephone or internet – and mischief.

Community health calls, either concerning mental health or wellness, accounted for 10 per cent of the activity, Pauls said, while traffic complaints were about nine per cent.

Some five per cent of calls concerned enforcement of other federal or provincial statutes, with a similar amount in bylaw complaints.

Persons offences – including assaults, sexual assaults and uttering threats – accounted for about five per cent of calls for service, Pauls said, while drug offences represented “less than one per cent.”

“Fraud and identity theft continues to be crime that advances in sophistication,” he said.

“In many cases, police can help before the crime is completed.

“We recommend that people call us even when they’re not in doubt. We see many frauds where officers can take an unbiased look at (the situation) and save people from losing thousands of dollars. If somebody is asking for money we’ll more than likely be able to figure out whether its a fraud or not.”

Persons offences in White Rock are typically between people that know each other, Pauls said, while noting that they are also under-reported in general – “specifically intimate partner violence and sexual assaults.”

Road safety continues to be a priority for the detachment, he said, noting that traffic cases injured 27 people during the year while there were a total of 23 collisions with damage over $10,000 and 68 cases that had damage under that amount, or were classed as hit-and-runs.

“We’d like to see the injury collisions reduced to zero,” Pauls said, noting that, during the year, White Rock RCMP had 2,756 traffic interactions that resulted in some form of documentation being issued by the officer.

“March happens to be the kick-off to our safe-driving campaign, so you’ll see more officers out on the roads doing various enforcement, (including) seat-belt, cell-phone and speeding,” he said.

The detachment will also be continuing policing in the peak season summer months, Pauls said, adding that he anticipates that there will be a rise in city events as a result of the loosening of some pandemic restrictions.

Peak season tickets last year included 61 Rail Safety Act violations, and 136 Rail Safety Act warning were also handed out. There were a total of 43 Liquor Act violations, Pauls said, but only six Cannabis Act violations were recorded.

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