Surrey councillor says police transition report calls to cut mental health outreach team in half

A Surrey city councillor is raising new concerns about the city’s plan to transition from the RCMP to a municipal police force.

Coun. Brenda Locke says it is “unconscionable” that the proposed transition plan would cut the police mental health and outreach team in half.

That report recommends the mental health team be reduced from 21 officers and four psychiatric nurses to 11 officers. The report says the new municipal police force will work with community partners to provide those services.

In a statement, Locke said the mental health and outreach team is “in high demand with calls such as domestic violence, complex mental breakdowns, suicide attempts, psychotic breaks, people living at high risk (homeless) as well as problematic substance use and addiction.”

She went on to say the police transition report noted that “in some jurisdictions, up to 40 per cent of all police calls involve a person with an apparent mental illness.”

Locke, who served as B.C.’s minister of state for mental health and addiction services, left Mayor Doug McCallum’s Safe Surrey Coalition in June, saying that too many decisions are made in the mayor’s office and behind closed doors.

Two other councillors have left the Safe Surrey Coalition in recent months.

A city spokesperson said Tuesday that the mayor was in meetings and unavailable for comment.

— With files from Janet Brown

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