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Latest Surrey crime stats spark war of words over policing

New Surrey crime statistics adding fuel to the debate over policing in the city
The latest crime numbers from Surrey RCMP show a rise in both violent and property crime. While Mayor Doug McCallum says it highlights the need for Surrey to have its own force, Aaron McArthur explains why opponents place the blame squarely on the city.

The latest crime statistics out of Surrey have sparked another round in the war of words over policing in that city.

Numbers from the third quarter of 2019 state there were 12,063 criminal code offences in Surrey, a six per cent increase from the previous quarter. Violent crimes were up five per cent and property crime up 10 per cent quarter over quarter.

Earlier this month, RCMP warned about a spike in break-and-enters.

Surrey RCMP warn about spike in break-ins
Surrey RCMP warn about spike in break-ins

Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum said he is “disheartened” by the latest crime numbers.

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“While I am disheartened by the latest crime statistics released today, it does not come as a surprise to me,” McCallum said in a statement.

“From residents to business owners, the one message that I have constantly heard is that people continue to feel unsafe in our city.

“Unfortunately, the third-quarter crime statistics [back] up what the people of Surrey have been telling me.”

READ MORE: War of words breaks out as Surrey mayor claims ‘red tape’ holding up new police force

McCallum said the latest numbers are further proof that Surrey needs to transition from the RCMP to a municipal police force.

“Our RCMP members are doing the best job they can, but it is clear from what I have heard from our citizens that Surrey would benefit from having its own police department,” the mayor said.

“I continue to urge the Solicitor General to make this a top priority and that we work as quickly as possible to establish the Surrey Police Department.”

Surrey RCMP Cpl. Elenore Sturko said the latest statistics reflect an “increase that’s consistent with trends seen across the Lower Mainland” and notes there has been a “downward trend” in crime numbers over the past decade.

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Coun. Linda Annis said the city is 52 officers short of its hiring commitments made in 2016, which is putting the public at risk.

Surrey RCMP top cop lashes out at critics during award ceremony speech
Surrey RCMP top cop lashes out at critics during award ceremony speech

“As we wait for the province’s decision on the creation of a city police department, crime doesn’t take a holiday,” Annis said in a statement. “We need officers now and it’s just not happening.

“We’re starving the RCMP and ignoring the needs of our growing city, it makes absolutely no sense.”

READ MORE: Teens accused in Surrey murder charged with assault on elderly White Rock man on same night

Speaking at the 23rd Annual Surrey RCMP awards earlier this month, Officer in Charge of the Surrey RCMP Asst. Comm. Dwayne McDonald lashed out at the detachment’s critics and those who have publicly disparaged its officers while calling for a civic police force.

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“We can’t police a large city? We’ve been doing it since 1951. I would challenge any other large city in this country to police with the resources we do and do a better job,” McDonald said.

“I’m just saying, if you want more boots on the ground, give me more boots.”

Days after that speech, McDonald announced he was moving from his Surrey post to become the RCMP’s criminal operations officer in charge of federal, investigative services and organized crime for B.C.

— With files from Simon Little and Sean Boynton