1. What is the RCMP's assessment of the overall security situation in public spaces following incidents like the Hardeep Singh Nijjar shooting? Do you consider it a failure on the part of the police and other authorities?
Anytime there is an act of violence such as a shooting or a homicide, it is understandably concerning for residents. The homicide of Hardeep Singh Nijjar occurred outside a place of worship where community members were present outside the Gurdwara.
Our public spaces are safe spaces. Residents demand and deserve to feel safe where they live, go to school or where they worship.
Notwithstanding this terrible incident, only a small fraction of our calls for service involve a violent act in a public space. It’s important to keep these isolated acts of violence within the context of the overall public safety picture in Surrey where violent crime has decreased for over a decade.
2. Can you provide insights into the investigation process and progress regarding the Hardeep Singh Nijjar shooting and other similar incidents?
The investigation into Hardeep Singh Nijjar’s death is being led by the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT). When a homicide occurs, an IHIT team responds and works directly with the Surrey RCMP.
Homicide investigations are complex, and they can take time to solve. Investigators in IHIT are incredibly experienced officers who are fully tasked with this matter and seeking justice for the victim, his family and this community.
3. The recent shootings in Surrey certainly create fear in the community. How can Surrey residents be assured of their safety?
Whenever a shooting occurs, it is and should be concerning to the community. As a parent, I have the same fears and aspirations as all parents, to provide a safe place to raise a family. So I share those feelings.
Sadly, we do see violence in all communities in Canada. But it is important to balance the perception of crime with the actual statistics and context of the overall public safety picture. Crime has fallen in Surrey for over 10 years.
Residents can feel safe because they are a massive part of the solution. Being involved in the community, staying engaged with their children and schools, participating in neighbourhood events, and reporting crimes to police – is how we all work together towards a safe and healthy community.
4. What strategies/ additional measures/ resources is the RCMP considering to deter such shootings and enhance public safety?
We use a number of strategies to enhance public safety and deter crime including our immediate response to community safety concerns, and our long-term strategy to address root causes of crime.
In regards to violent crimes like shootings or gang activity, we use a dual strategy of enforcement combined with prevention and education, working with our partners, to deter youth from becoming involved in crime.
5. With the policing transition between Surrey RCMP and Surrey Police Service, which law enforcement agency will respond to a crime scene if a resident calls 911?
The Surrey RCMP remains in command of policing within Surrey but RCMP and SPS officers have worked together in the detachment and have done so with great professionalism.
When the public calls for police service in Surrey, they may see an officer from the Surrey RCMP or the Surrey Police Service (or both) arrive to assist them.
6. How can you assure residents that the highest standards of investigation practices will be maintained when dealing with a crime scene through the policing transition between Surrey Police Service and Surrey RCMP?
Ensuring public safety and maintaining the integrity of investigations has been and will continue to be my top priority as the OIC. At this point, all RCMP processes and procedures continue to be followed to ensure there are no investigative gaps.
If Transition were to proceed, processes will be developed to make the shift to SPS.
7. What do you make of Surrey Council's decision to retain the Surrey RCMP in Surrey?
The RCMP has policed Surrey since 1951. We are extremely proud to serve this community and are thrilled to remain in place.
My main priority as OIC remains the same, to ensure public and police officer safety, and deliver excellent, community-focused policing in Surrey.
8. Taxpayers' money is at stake with this back-and-forth between Surrey RCMP and Surrey Police Service. It has cost taxpayers $8M a month since Council took a vote in November, which is close to 60M dollars, which is how much a brand new Rec Centre would cost the City. How do you address this with the taxpayers?
The decisions over the policing transition and costs related to the transition is not within my purview; however, I recognize that policing costs are a significant portion of every City budget.
I take financial accountability very seriously. Multiple reports indicate that the Surrey RCMP operate in a fiscally responsible manner and are more affordable than a municipal policing alternative by 30-40 million per year. As such, I firmly believe that Surrey tax payers are receiving effective, efficient and affordable policing.
9. If the Surrey Police Service gets the go-ahead for the City of Surrey, where will the majority of the Surrey RCMP officers be heading?
If the transition to SPS were to continue, the RCMP would seek to retain every RCMP officer and would work with them individually to find a position and location that would meet their career objectives and their family situation.
10. What message would you like to share with the South Asian community?
The South Asian community has deep and generational roots in policing and the military and, as such, we appreciate the continued to support we receive day in and day out.
I think this is reflected in the transformation of this detachment since 1951 to be representative of this community. Surrey residents have supported their sons, daughters and family members to join the RCMP so that our newest intake of 6 RCMP Cadets in the next weeks are 80% of South Asian descent!
My message – thank you for the trust.