SURREY -- A Surrey city councillor says his personal experience with crime in his community is the driving force behind his support for a shift to municipal policing.

Councillor Doug Elford has experienced his community’s crime problem first-hand. 

“I encountered a burglar in my house at four o’clock in the morning, and literally chased him out the front door,” said Elford.

That incident was last month. This week, he experienced something else.

“I had Christmas decorations stolen, petty stuff,” said Elford.

He says those experiences are why he is sticking with a controversial plan to change the city’s policing model. Currently, Surrey is policed by an RCMP force. But Mayor Doug McCallum campaigned on switching to a city police department.

“I never criticize the men on the street and women on the street, the front line officers, but our model has to change,” said Elford.

“There has to be a better conduit for our community through the police board to our chief.”

On Tuesday, the Surrey RCMP’s assistant commissioner, Dwayne McDonald, warned that the 2019 and 2020 city budgets have not allowed for any additional police officers or resources, despite the city’s growing population.

“We are seeing some minor increases in crime this year and, in the long term, we cannot expect to see crime go down in a growing city without relative increases to police resources,” McDonald said in a statement.

Some other victims of Surrey crime say the councillor and the mayor are on the wrong path.

“We do not need a new police force, we need adequate policing right now,” said Darlene Bennett, whose husband was shot and killed on their driveway in a case of mistaken identity.

Elford voted in favour of Surrey’s new five-year budget that will spend millions of dollars on the transition with no new funds for more officers.

“Previous councils have added hundreds of officers and even this year we are at the highest homicide rate in a five-year span,” said Elford.

It is a controversial position, but Elford is sticking with it.

“It allows us to build a force designed for Surrey and that excites me,” said Elford.