A former member of Mayor Doug McCallum's Safe Surrey Coalition has warned that dumping the RCMP in favour of a local police force could undermine services to the most vulnerable.
In a public statement, Coun. Brenda Locke has pointed out that the mayor's police transition report calls for severe cuts to the police mental-health team.
The RCMP detachment's mental health and outreach team has 21 officers, including a staff sergeant, and two corporals each overseeing eight constables.
In addition, four psychiatric nurses are provided by Fraser Health to work with the police.
According to Locke, the transition report recommends that there only be 11 officers in a municipal police force's mental health team: one sergeant and 10 constables.
Locke, a former B.C. minister of state for mental health and addiction services, pointed out that this mental health and outreach team deals with everything ranging from domestic violence to complex mental breakdowns to suicide attempts and psychotic breaks, as well as those who are homeless and/or have substance use and addiction issues.
"The report suggests that the police will work with 'community partners' to streamline the service," Locke revealed. "That may be Vancouver’s solution, but they have significantly more health care facilities and resources. It’s risky here because Surrey has not kept pace with the social and health care infrastructure needs of a city our size."
She also emphasized that McCallum eliminated the public safety committee and decided instead to create a police transition committee, which only includes members of his party.
That's why she's calling for an open discussion and healthy debate, including going through the transition report line by line.
"Mistakes in policing have very real consequences for our vulnerable citizens and for the community as a whole."