Debate: Surrey needs its own municipal police force

Hiring officers who are familiar with the city allows police to strengthen their relationship with local residents

Art by @RESLUS

Art by @RESLUS

Intuitively, it seems like a bad idea to bring complete outsiders into a community when it comes to policing. 

Displacing a person from their home by sending them to a completely new area, and then bestowing the responsibility to serve that community is a jarring change that has its share of challenges, not to mention a lack of intimate connection with the area or its community. 

This is one of the requirements to be part of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). In a high population area such as Metro Vancouver, there are far less rookies and new recruits as senior officers are given priority to serve there first, while new officers are usually sent to remote locations to gain experience. 

With this method, the problem is people who are being posted into our communities by the RCMP have no connection to the community or culture, which adds to the already tense relationship police have with many residents. This is another hurdle the population must overcome when they speak about police interactions and disparity in communication, and another step backwards between mending the relationship between police and the public. 

Municipalities like Vancouver, Delta, and New Westminster have their own dedicated forces, but for some reason Surrey was left out, even though it’s the third fastest growing city in Canada. The RCMP provides no special services that require the city to need a federal program, and a municipal police force could do the same job with more empathy and a familiar connection to the area. 

Policing is a job that requires a certain level of familiarity with the citizens and location in order to keep law and order effectively and carefully. What comes with this is the ability to see familiarity between residents and the police force. When an officer responds to a domestic violence call, one could surely assume a familiar face would be more effective and feel safer than a stranger. 

Officers also need to have empathy when interacting with residents, and it’s all too easy for a new person to fall into an “us versus them” mentality when they haven’t grown up in that environment. 

By allowing more residents to become officers in their own communities with a regional police force, a person who is familiar with the problems and context of the city they serve could make better and more effective decisions about where their efforts go, rather than a stranger.