Hepner unwittingly calls into question Community Safety Patrols done by Commissionaires.

It’s been said that Surrey politics is the one to watch this year and certainly it never fails to provide fodder for ample discussion.

Mayoral candidate Barinder Rasode released her crime plan yesterday,one crafted in part in consultation with soon to be retired Delta Police Chief Jim Cessford. Cessford is highly respected by many not only in Delta, but in law enforcement in general for his commitment to the ‘no call too small’ philosophy. 

Within a short time of Rasode’s release, Hepner issued a press release not only calling Rasode’s crime plan a complete knock-off of the current Surrey Crime Prevention Strategy that’s been in place since 2007, she then went onto say how terrible some parts of Rasode’s plan was. ( Think about that for a moment. She even says she had to look at Rasode’s plan twice to see what, if anything, was different)

Here is Hepner’s release in full, followed by a small excerpt, so there can be no errors of interpretation on my part: http://www.surreyfirst.ca/2014/10/rasodes-public-safety-plan-a-copy-of-surrey-firsts-crime-2007-reduction-strategy/

Hepner press release

This raised more than a few eyebrows between Newton residents who just earlier this year, were introduced to the new Community Safety Patrol pilot project staffed by the Commissionaires earlier this year.

In this report to the police committee,  dated April 23rd, 2014 it’s clear tiered policing is being implemented and the OIC Bill Fordy recommended in part, the following:

3· Direct City staff to enter into a contract with the BC Commissionaires to conduct a 36
week Community Safety Patrol pilot project, with 10 Community Safety Patrol Personnel
for 2014;
4· Recommend that Council set the expenditure authorization at $554.40o.oo, excluding
taxes; and
5· Further consider increasing the total number of Community Safety Patrol Personnel to 20 in 2015.

However, decisions must have been made prior to this report to the police committtee, because a full week earlier,a craigslist posting for the job with a start date of April 22nd  even caught the city manager off guard .

Commissionaires after all, are security guards, and in Linda Hepner’s press release, she says using community safety patrols/security guards is dangerous, because they are not trained police officers. I actually happen to agree, and voiced my concerns along with many residents at the time – if you are going to have boots on the ground, let them be well trained to deal with the situations they may encounter.

To say Newton residents were surprised to read Linda’s press release about how dangerous security guards would be, and how it would take resources away from policing ( $554,400.00 in this case alone) after being sold by the city on the effectiveness of the Commissionaires, is an understatement.

Emails and phone calls started flying around, in particular since a local activist David Dalley, had recently began asking Newton residents for solutions to the men hanging around The Grove who had begun harassing women going through – an ongoing issue for months. And one the commissionaires were not able to prevent.

Where are the commissionaires anyways?

Not aware that a Newton resident had already asked this very same question to no response earlier in the evening, I put forth the question again – and the response stunned Newton residents completely:

It didn’t matter that I voiced this same concern she has in her press release earlier this year, it mattered that the question Newton residents are now wondering about, was not something she was prepared to answer.

 She has now called into question the entire pilot project, through her own words.

Where does that leave residents who have been questioning and concerned why these security guards are doing community safety patrols around the city?

After all, “They have no more authority to do anything than you or me, and with just a few weeks of very basic training, Policing is serious business and it needs to be handled by professionals.”

Which is exactly what Newton residents said this spring when the city hired them.

I welcome an explanation- as do the residents and businesses of Newton – on all of this, but I’m not hanging around here waiting for it.

There’s plenty of sunshine to be had outside.

27 Comments on “Hepner unwittingly calls into question Community Safety Patrols done by Commissionaires.

  1. You are bigger than this LY. Or CAN be. Newton is like the tar-baby…………..you can get stuck there. I urge you to see and write about the BIGGER picture.

    • I getcha and I do and have.. and you know that.

      There are several stories I am working on now provincially and federally.
      But Newton is very much still an area that needs representation in many ways and this kind of nonsense from candidates does nothing to engage people when they are confronted with statements that are in complete opposition to what they were told just months ago. Frankly, it’s a bit alarming that her quotes in the press release didn’t jog anyone on her staffs memory to the fact the city already has contracted out to security guards. With an election coming,people need to be encouraged to vote, not become overwhelmed with this kind of contradictory politicking.

      So hold tight. Those stories are coming. But people in Newton want answers. Not just to this, but how the candidates are going to pay for all their plans… http://www.surreyleader.com/news/277954451.html

      • I understand and I even partially agree – one has to attend to one’s own backyard. That kind of thing. But try to stay the course, the bigger one. Newton is you and a few friends, NO STRINGS ATTACHED is BC. You are on a bigger stage than Surrey’s.

        • True enough JDC, but every few years we have municipal elections and that’s a responsibility. 4 years is a long time to go now between elections and much to be written about. Keep in mind when I write about provincial politics, people complain I am not writing about federal politics. And when I write Federal and provincial, people complain I am ignoring Surrey..lol…

        • You are right. Free country. Free blog. I am OK with it. I just appreciate LY’s input in matters so much I prefer them to be on issues that matter to me. I have spent a lifetime in that Newton-kinda-hell (worse places, actually) and, after awhile, it dawns on you….’our system begets this crap and it is as natural a consequence as gasoline on fire’. Not gonna be fixed by committees or town meetings. This is a systemic disease wrought from greed, mindless institutions and ignorance. And politicians thrive on it.

        • Thank you JDC,I appreciate your comments, just spread too thin 🙂 Likewise, thanks nonconfidence. I tend to agree- there are more voices than there are those who act, but to throw in the towel is to admit defeat and that word isn’t in my vocabulary.

  2. Follow the bouncing ball folks. WHy would Mayor Watts make a statement like this as she was leaving office. ” I support Linda Hepner and Surrey first, Doug McCallum would a step backwards and in regards to Barinder Rasode, how can you respect someone who is associated with that developer?” What developer and why say something like that?

    Is the current head of the RCMP in Surrey Bill Fordy *edited* Or just happy?

    How can the head of the police force that had the record for most murders in Canada a calendar year be recently honoured in Ottawa for his policing work?

    I’m confused.

    • Dave, you know I love you, but that warranted an edit on the Fordy commment. I’m no fan of Fordy but that is not where this should go.The departing mayor is welcome to cast her approval where she may, but the comments about McCallum and Rasode raised eyebrows.

      However the irony of Fordy’s award and how he was nominated is quite apparent to most.The management and PR of the force has been an issue far and wide, Surrey is no different.What makes it sad is that it takes away from the good work of the men and women on our streets who work very very hard in this city. You can’t and shouldn’t brand an entire force for the actions of a few.

      • Noted Laila, I certainly would never call into question the entire force. It simply seems odd to me whether it was a singular award or an award for the entire police force, I don’t believe given the soaring crime rates in Surrey an award for excellence was due.

        • RCMP did something similar when they were in trouble over handling of the Robert Dziekanski homicide. A couple of BC’s top cops, including the one managing the Dziekanski cover-up, were hauled down to Ottawa for Order of Merit presentations by the Governor General.

  3. The 2 tiered system is better than nothing. The Commissionaires, at one time were made up of retired/former military personnel. If that is the case, they may provide a better level of service than other companies. Some government services used to use the Commissionaires, but then went with “cheaper” services, such as the one currently at VIA – Immigration detention.

    Even having Commissionaires doing patrols in many areas in Surrey, might be enough to deter some criminals and it would give RCMP another set of eyes in the neighbourhood. We know the Transit Police aren’t where they ought to be most of the time. Just having Commissionaires around Sky Train centres, and parks and walk ways, would provide a level of safety not currently in place.

    I am not fond of a two tiered police system, on the other hand, its better than nothing and the Commissionaires, when I knew of their work, did a good job. Up until the RCMP took over Airports, that is who was out there, The Commissionaires. If they are still made up of retired/former military personnel, it might work. At least we may not have some of the lack of quality staff we see in some other private security firms. Part of the problem with these other security companies is how little they pay their staff. So you have to ask, what type of quality worker are you getting?

    it would be a good idea if one of those Surrey candidates just stood up and said,

    to adequately deal with crime in surrey, we need our own police force. That is going to cost money and this is how much. Now is that amount worth it to you to feel safe and perhaps reduce the number of murders we have in the City of Surrey each year. If the answer is Yes vote for me. If not, vote for the other guy. Just don’t cry to me if you get mugged, assaulted, murdered, etc.

    The problem in Surrey is simply. People do not want to pay for adequate police services. They think it won’t happen to them. They get all righteous when some one is killed, protest, and go back to sleep. In a city with almost the same population as Vancouver, but considerably larger in size, Surrey really needs a much larger police force and it needs to be accountable to the citizens of Surrey, not H.Q. in Ottawa.

    • True enough- locals are howling over the prospect of any tax increase- we want the service but dont want to pay for it.

      The commissionaires I have seen on the street are highly unlikely to be any kind of retired personnel -most if not all, are quite young. The guards you speak of tend to be assigned to passport offices etc.As the story says,the company placed a craigslist ad out for hiring people for the Surrey job.

      If we had retired law enforcement or vets on the street doing this AND they had authority to address minor crimes etc, personally I wouldnt have as much of an issue with it. These guys patrol around and report stuff it it happens but still have to wait for an RCMP to appear.

      The current council will not advocate for a city police force after heavily lobbying for the E division headquarters to be built and located in our city. It would have to be someone willing to take on that challenge.

      • It always comes down to priorities aas to where our tax dollars are spent. Will peopl howl in outrage over a tax increase if they know it will go towards boots on the streets? As a Surrey resident, I don’t think so.

        Where citizens howl about tax increases it’s where we see the money being wasted on perks like overseas travel, a city hall that’s is a virtual palace, bringing in controversial speakers, high cell phone, hotel room, payment fees for meetings, massive severance packages and on and on while they watch the municipality being clear-cut by every developer in the Lower Mainland.

        Wasn’t it Judy Higginbottom’s suggestion counsellors should get a fee when they’re defeated?

  4. Trying not to getting too stuck in tar……..I will add this: The RCMP and the civic police forces generally employ burly, muscled, sometimes overly-eager, weapons-carrying, belligerents fueled on ego, steroids and donuts to do police work. They cause trouble as often as they fix it. They may be a good choice if you are going to raid a pig farm or a Hell’s Angel’s clubhouse or worse, attend a domestic. Sometimes fire with fire is the way to go. But so much police work is stopping and controlling traffic, asking questions of victims and filling out forms. Grannies, nannies and commissionaires can do that. You do not need to pay $80K a year to a guy wearing guns and ammo in a car decked out like The Starship Enterprise to do the majority of police work. Frankly, I would prefer 4 retired old gits walking the streets to one brute with a baton 95% of the time. Yes, yes, I know…those old gits better have a responsive brute at the end of the phone but my point is that police forces are NOT armies and they should not be run like them. Give granny packs a chance.

    • Actually, I was at a dinner party a few years back and met one of the “Pickton” arresting officers. He wasnt a steriod freak, nice guy, quiet, nice wife, very normal.
      He told me when they showed up to arrest Pickton he was out in the barn in the pig stye(there’s a visual) and when they told him he was under arrest he grabbed a pitchfork and threatened them with it. They talked him out of his foolishness and he surrendered.
      I said to the RCMP officer, “You could have saved the taxpayers a LOT of money and no one would have questioned it…..”
      He smiled and said , “The thought did occur to me later but he’s rotting in jail for the rest of his life.”
      I spoke to another friend that was involved in some prison repair work and he said Pickton is in his cell 23.5hrs a day and totally segregated from the rest of the population for security reasons. No one will talk to him . He’s completely bored nuts. Fed 3 nutritional meals a day…… for life………..

      The Economist had an interesting article a few months back on the “militarization” of police forces in the US ( and I would argue Canada to a lesser extent).
      It seems to have happened after 9/11. These police agencies have been given hundreds of millions of dollars to spend virtually as they please. The National Gun registry has turned out to be a 1 BILLION dollar fiasco that has silently “gone away”.
      I think as more and more females(North Van RCMP is 50% female) and minorities are hired the “jock mentality” will fade away. But they do hire a certain mindset in the police forces and that will never change.

      • Even tho females and minorities suggest ‘more peaceful outcomes’, such outcomes are not impossible from burly-types. 90% of the peaceful outcomes come from the gun and taser-toting overly belligerent types anyway because 90% of issues OBVIOUSLY don’t require such tactics (i.e. the pitchfork and the pig farmer). Burly guys aren’t – by definition – bad. I don’t think testosterone and donuts necessarily makes a guy act brutish. But the training they get does. “Take control of the situation” has been translated into ‘Get on the ground NOW!’ That’s just plain silly. And it can be provoking to someone who is 100% innocent but agitated and trying to say something first. I was a bouncer in a pub at one time in my life and I worked in a clinic in Skid Row for four years. Only twice was brute force ever needed to control a situation compared to well over a thousand ‘situations’. Yes, you need communication skills. And a few skills to read situations help as well. But, if no one is in immediate danger, taking control does not require belligerence or a taser. Our police force needs more and better training to counter the crap they have been taught to date.

  5. Meanwhile at the corner of 72 and KGB this afternoon (Saturday) I saw dozens of soulless individuals gathered around the phone booth waiting for their day to die. People get off your damn computers and come take a look. The issue here is Hepners flip flop AND a decaying society in the Newton core. Hepner talks the talk, but come on folks let’s walk their walk and do something besides whining and sniveling. If not for yourselves, then at least for Julie and all the others.

    • A few months back I had occasion to drive by the one hundred block of Hastings Street. At midnight. It was like a scene from a horror movie. I thought of the movie, World War Z except the zombies all wore black. I have never been afraid to walk the mean streets (LA, Vancouver, even Ciudad Juarez) even in the early evenings. But I would not have stopped that night for anything. It was terrifying. My point? There is a point of no return.

      • Returning from Burnaby recently on a Friday night around 9pm,taking the Pattullo and heading up King George down to 64th, was a shocker. Hadn’t been that way in the evening in quite a while and it was very very reminiscent of the dtes. All the way down past Newton and ‘ the stroll’ .

        I’ll be honest, I was shocked and I’m not sure where all the addicts etc are coming from, but that part of Whalley seemed worse at that time of night than I can recall. Not a sight new visitors to Surrey would be expecting that’s for sure.

        • Sad, but true. The crowd grows during Mardi Gras. It’s sad to watch the prostitutes mingle by the McDonalds as I see them march to the washroom to freshen up after a “trick”.

        • I think the types of drugs are also to blame. “Crack” seems to be quite the scourge. Aggressive addicts looking for that next high more often.
          Compared to 20 years ago its everywhere now.
          Ive seen crackheads in small rural communities and when I ask the locals “When did Crack show up here?” They look at me like I’m nuts. Totally oblivious to whats going on.
          While I dont agree with capital punishment perhaps a televised flogging of a few dealers might be in order.
          Can you imagine if there was a major earthquake and emergency services were overwhelmed here in the lower mainland? ……………No police………….and unarmed security guards.

        • I tend to agree with that. Crack and crystal meth users are very common now and in my experience are the most aggressive and volatile.

          I get that finding enough RCMP to fulfill the needs of the community is a challenge. It takes time, enrollment is down etc,but I’m not sold on alternatives. Certainly the RCMP spend a lot of time on calls that are not high-risk – reports of break-ins, checking on elderly etc – but the time and training that goes into an officer is nothing like the time and training any alternative gets. And Surrey isn’t really comparable to other cities where this has been done because of the sheer geographic size of the city.

          It’s the politicking that bothers me most and this example of Hepners contradictory statements is but one.

          Here is a link to an interview Jill Bennett did with an SFU criminologist, who says generally in their research the perception of crime doesnt match the reality, but in Surrey that’s not the case. The stats do show crime in many areas is off the charts and the fear is well founded. http://esmirmilavic.wordpress.com/2014/10/05/battleground-surrey-jill-bennett-in-conversation-with-prof-curt-taylor-griffiths-on-crime-in-surrey/