Want more cops? Hold an election.


For grins, I cobbled together policing strengths in Surrey for the past 30 years.
The exercise was quite revealing on a number of  counts.
Firstly, as I expected, the worst police to population ratio in those three decades was one cop per 911 people. It was under former Mayor Doug McCallum’s reign, and the poor policing strengths came on the heels of a federal shut-down of the RCMP training facility in Regina.
During two years before McCallum’s low ratio, we only got four cops per year. I was covering council at the time, I know the city was asking for more.
But Surrey wasn’t requesting enough to bring us to the national average of one officer in 700 people at the time. Our poor police strength made headlines.
In 2003, Coun. Dianne Watts, then Coun. Dianne Watts told The Surrey Leader if she could, she would hire 100 cops right away if she could.
She told me at the time McCallum wasn’t happy with his rogue councillor.
She was removed from the chair of that committee, and subsequently quit McCallum’s party, the Surrey Electors Team (now defunct).
It was soon apparent she was gunning for McCallum’s job on a crime-focused agenda.
McCallum hired an incredible 75 officers in 2004 and another 41 in 2005. For perspective, that’s 17 per cent of our current force, in just two years.
A view from a little higher up on the numbers shows a distinct and predictable trend.
Every time we hold an election in Surrey, we bump up the number of police we hire.
There’s a civic election every three years, and each election sees peak as displayed in the above graph.
The huge peak came when Watts challenged McCallum for the mayor’s chair.
Best be happy with the policing numbers we get this year, because the province is changing it to a four year election cycle from three.
This year’s boost in cops will have to hold us until 2018.

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