It didn’t take long for political rivals of Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum to find differences in their approach to a police force transition they both oppose, now that one has announced her intention to run for mayor.
Just two weeks after Coun. Brenda Locke of Surrey Connect announced she would run for mayor in October 2022, Coun. Linda Annis of Surrey First took a shot Tuesday at Locke’s “knee-jerk” determination to halt the nascent Surrey Police Service, when she likened it to McCallum’s approach.
“Brenda Locke’s ‘screeching halt’ approach to police transition doesn’t take into account the untold millions that have been spent to date and the millions more that will be spent over the next 12 months. This sort of arbitrary decision-making by Doug McCallum and Brenda Locke makes taxpayers nervous for their wallets and the safety of our city, when we should always be completely transparent with our residents,” Annis said in an emailed statement that otherwise called for 300 new police officers over the next three years.
“We need to take ego and politics out of the policing equation and give our citizens the facts and figures and confidence they need to make good decisions going forward.”
Annis clarified to Glacier Media that unless McCallum can provide better information that shows the SPS is cost-effective and better for public safety, she wants to keep the RCMP. And she said she agrees with Locke that a local referendum is needed.
While Locke has not committed to a dollar amount spent on SPS to October 2022 that would be a point-of-no-return for her, Annis said she won’t commit to shutting down the process until she understands the numbers better. Nevertheless, she is still calling for a referendum.
Should either party be in a position to call a referendum, or do it jointly, it is likely they can provide such information to the public.
To date the transition is budgeted to cost $64 million, but there are many unaccounted for start-up costs, some of them significant. As well, the operational costs of SPS, namely salaries for over 50 officers and staff, are starting to add up while the city continues to pay the RCMP in full.
In any case, Surrey residents will be paying significantly more for police. Annis’ call for 300 more officers will cost an estimated $60 million per year, which amounts to about $320 in taxes per household.
Surrey Connect called Annis’ press release “aggressive.”
“Surrey Connect has met several times with her, and her adviser, in a genuine attempt to create a consensus and move forward. It appears, for all intents and purposes, she is taking a different path.
“Surrey Connect believes the money currently being spent on the Surrey Police Service transition should be invested in the current RCMP force. It is common knowledge that Surrey’s RCMP is seriously understaffed; that doesn’t warrant a news release.”
Annis said it is likely Surrey First will run a mayoral candidate. Should the two sides split their vote, it could leave the door open for McCallum to win the mayor’s seat with 40-45% of the vote, as he did in 2018.
McCallum’s Safe Surrey Coalition once included Locke and Couns. Jack Hundial, now of Locke’s party, and Steven Pettigrew (independent). Those three left as McCallum has frozen new hires for the Surrey RCMP for three straight years.
Annis called for a police force referendum in the 2018 campaign but nevertheless voted for the transition just after the election in what she said was a show of unity for council but now describes as a mistake.