'Not the right time': Most Surrey residents want to delay police force transition, poll suggests
VANCOUVER -- With the novel coronavirus pandemic continuing to bring financial strain for individuals, businesses and cities, a new survey suggests most Surrey residents don't want their local government focusing on its police transition during the crisis.
According to a poll conducted by Pollara Strategic Insights and commissioned by the National Police Federation, 83 per cent of Surrey residents say this isn't the time to put funds towards phasing out the RCMP and creating a municipal police force in its place.
"Surrey residents have made their priorities clear, focusing on the need for core services and support for those who have been impacted by this pandemic," said Brian Sauvé, president of the NPF, in a news release.
"People are clearly telling us this is not the right time for this policing transition plan."
Last month, the City of Surrey estimated it was losing about $4 million each month because of COVID-19 pandemic. The poll suggests 90 per cent of the city's residents think the mayor and council should re-evaluate spending plans to focus on urgent priorities right now.
"COVID-19 has shown how important it is to have dedicated and experienced emergency responders who know their communities," Sauvé said.
"Now is not the time for a disruptive change in policing. We encourage city council to rethink this plan and focus on the health and safety of people and their communities."
Meanwhile, about 16 per cent of those who responded said replacing the municipal police force should be considered a major priority.
In late February, the provincial government approved the city's creation of the Surrey Police Board, which is responsible for hiring police and civilian employees. It will also be responsible for financial oversight of the department.
Surrey's five-year budget has $129.6 million earmarked for the transition.
The survey includes a randomly selected sample of 803 Surrey residents between April 17 and 27.