Well here we go again.
Surrey RCMP’s officer in charge, Assistant Commissioner Dwayne McDonald, is poised to ask city council for a significant bump-up in the number of Mounties policing our streets.
Is it necessary? Very likely. Will having more police arrest the occurrence of gang violence in Surrey? Very unlikely. It’s a societal problem police alone cannot fix, and it’s unfair to expect that having more officers on patrol will eliminate gang violence.
McDonald will be the latest in a succession of Surrey top cops who have gone to council with cap in hand, seeking to deploy more boots. This has been going on for decades and still we have shootings.
The call for more police typically comes on the heels of a high-profile tragedy – in this case the murders of two teens – and, also typically, the mass rally that is inevitably held in its wake to mobilize politicians and police to fix the situation.
While Surrey does need more police, history teaches us it will never reach parity with Vancouver. The City of Surrey’s projected population in 2018 is 544,230. There are 835 Mounties in Surrey, making for one officer per 652 residents. Fifty-eight of those officers, however, are seconded to integrated teams such as IHIT. That leaves 777 Surrey detachment officers, or one cop per 700 residents.
Vancouver has 1,327 officers policing a population of 631,486. So its police officers to residents ratio is always more ideal compared to Surrey’s. Why should Surrey be Vancouver’s poor cousin when it comes to policing strength?
We hope McDonald is successful in his bid but it’s important to recognize this is very much a cyclical thing, akin to bailing water in a leaking boat.
We need to embrace the reality that hiring more officers is not a panacea to making Surrey safer.