Should Surrey get its own police department? Councillor wants to put it to a referendum

Calls for municipal police force in Surrey
WATCH: In the face of ongoing gang violence in Surrey, there are calls for a referendum on whether the city should replace the RCMP with its own municipal police force. Aaron McArthur has the story.

In light of the latest spate of gang-related violence and killings in Surrey, is it time for that community to establish its own police force?

That’s the question Coun. Tom Gill wants to put to his constituents if he is elected mayor this fall.

Policing in Surrey is provided by a detachment of 835 RCMP officers, the largest municipal RCMP force in the country.

WATCH: Growing violence pushes Surrey’s top cop to ask for more officers

Growing violence pushes Surrey’s top cop to ask for more officers
Growing violence pushes Surrey’s top cop to ask for more officers

Gill, who is one of the frontrunners to replace Linda Hepner as Surrey’s mayor, says the city needs to take a close look at all aspects of that arrangement and determine if the RCMP are the best force for the city or whether Surrey should have its own police force.

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“There are 300 families moving to Surrey every month, and in the next 10 years, our population will be over 600,000,” Gill said.

“There’s a reason other major cities across the country have their own police force, and why the RCMP tend to police smaller communities.”

READ MORE: Surrey policing resources under the microscope amid rising violence

“The RCMP started with us back in 1951. A lot has changed over the past 67 years and today, we’re a large urban city. I think it makes good sense to take a detailed look at how we’re policing Surrey going forward. Could we do an even better job if we had our own police department with its local focus, local approach and local recruitment?”

Gill is asking city staff to do a full review of Surrey’s agreement with the RCMP and potentially take the question to a municipal referendum in 2019.