A loud gasp could be heard Tuesday night at the all-candidates’ debate held at the Clarke Foundation Theatre.
The topic of discussion was about public safety in Mission and the state of local policing.
Coun. Danny Plecas at one point was discussing the impact of policing on city taxes. Plecas told the crowd, heavily populated with Mission seniors, that the city was facing future property tax increases of 4 to 5 per cent and that one big reason was the cost of the new RCMP contract.
Many members of the public often wonder why property taxes seem to rise each year and a big reason is the rising costs of such things as policing – a service that dominates much of a city’s budget.
But in return, a city expects to receive first-class service for all of the money spent on policing.
More and more cities are questioning policing costs and what you get for those dollars.
Some, like Surrey, are planning on ditching the RCMP in favour of city-run police force like in New Westminster or Abbotsford. Surrey made the move because some on council are unhappy with the RCMP’s performance.
Others want to cut back on policing costs – often referred to as “defunding” – in order to divert those funds to run such programs as mental health services to deal with the root causes of crime.
At the meeting Tuesday night, it was stated that Mission has an estimated 52 RCMP officers in total.
But not all of those officers are on duty at the same time, of course, and some candidates are demanding better service from the RCMP.
Sabastien Obi wants to see police services expanding to reduce wait times because the current situation is “not safe.”
Pash Brar was in agreement. Brar told the crowd that she recently had to call the RCMP due to an unsafe incident – except that no officers ever came to respond. She told the crowd that she was informed there were only two officers on duty that evening.
“Is the city’s strategic plan (on policing) working? Because I sure don’t feel safe with it.”