Every community going through redevelopment that effects the entire city, goes through a growing process that involves new people coming in and older more established families leaving.

In Surrey, we went from having 800,000 people and just under a few hundred RCMP officers, to having now a skeleton crew of RCMP officers as new Police Officers close up their old lives in other cities, provinces, and neighbourhoods, so they, and their entire families in some case, can move to Surrey BC.

There are a few concerns that I and other community members have about what this is going to look like. While I will never, EVER, agree that we should keep the RCMP in Surrey BC, I do have some concerns about doing a clean sweep of firing them, without giving them the chance to transition.

Many RCMP officers whether you like it or not, grew up in Surrey BC, or other areas close by, they know the community and they know the issues the community faces.

Others lived in other districts and worked here during the week, but they also gave up thousands of hours with their own family, to be here taking care of ours. So there’s a catch-22 to losing the RCMP. We get a new system that MIGHT be better, but we’re also losing a lot of people who have on the ground, front line, experience, with the most vulnerable sections of our city.

Here are some thoughts on the transition.

What Does Surrey Need To Expand and Grow and Evolve Successfully?

More Recovery Programs Designed For Life AFTER The Trauma of Drug Addiction Disorder

Recovery programs are designed on helping folk transition from life on the streets or in the shadows to life in the light. Lots of folks focus JUST on getting clean from drugs, but more life skills are needed to help people have a better foundation for future success.

In NA and AA rooms around the globe, you’ll learn how and why people got off drugs, but the skills needed to stay off the drugs, to build a strong foundation at having ten, twenty, or sixty years of freedom, without depending on drugs and alcohol, and all the things that come with that life, are not always taught in recovery programs.

That’s largely because this isn’t the focus of recovery – it’s getting clean and sober. Staying sober is another demon altogether. And too many people don’t understand that.

They don’t understand that for folks who suffer from any kind of addiction disorder, trying to stay clean and not use drugs just to get through that first hour of being awake, can be a kind of torture on the body, mind, and soul. Some folks can’t eat without a shot of meth or heroin, and then when they take that shot they forget to eat. Others can’t function without even just the tiniest amount of alcohol in their system.

Relationship building, community connections, all of the things that give us anchors against the triggers that destroy too much time of our lives, take time to understand how to build. And turning your brain from “addiction mode,” which is really “survival mode,” to “I can do this without drugs,” to “I don’t even think about drugs or alcohol at all,” is a special kind of skill only granted to those who fight every, single, day, of their entire lives, to make sure they never slide backwards.

People who are fighting addiction need help, and they don’t just need help for 12, 30, or 60 days they need it for their entire lives. They need to constantly have the support of their community in order to build strong foundations, and lots of times, the folks they reach out to, aren’t the folks who are capable of providing that support. By no fault of our own, we have our own shit to deal with, and so it’s hard to make room for others.

So. You have to understand lots of us are isolated, lots of us are living with family we don’t talk to, and we don’t have friends or strong connections, and so while it may look messy to you, to us it’s all we have. Understand that, before trying to be a cop in Surrey.

For you, 10 shopping carts may look like junk, but for many of my friends, those few bags, bins, and suitcases, it’s all they possess in the entire world. Take that away and you force my friends to start all over again, but that doesn’t matter to you, because YOU already have your strong foundation. PLEASE do not forget that, while being a cop in Surrey.

Programs For Youth That Aren’t Marketed As Being For Kids At Risk

It’s enough already, every single kid on this planet knows that they are in danger, that they are at risk. Whether it’s the environment as a whole or the community they grow up in, ALL kids know that ALL youth are at risk of drug addiction, gang coercion, trauma, and abuse. They also know that TOO many politicians will deliberately out of their way to cause more harm than good.

They know. You can stop scaring the shit out of them with your marketing, and just create great programs that inspire ALL youth, regardless of race, creed, nationality, size, orientation, or clothing or hair style, that their stories matter.

Then show them how to make their stories matter.

There are all kinds of videographers out there and programs designed to help people tell stories, so use that and build programs that are designed to inspire youth instead of terrifying them into falling through the cracks. The more you scare a youth into believing they have no future, the more they believe they have no future. We need to do better for our “at-risk,” youth.

Best Festivals In Surrey BC

I remember summer nights in Surrey when whole Indian families would come out to have a late-night picnic at a park. At the time of course we joked that the vampires were out, but what we didn’t realize at the time, was that the reason they came out to have a late dinner in the park, was so their kids could play, while mom and dad have a romantic date night picnic closeby.

Fusion Festival is one of the greatest inventions of Surrey BC. A festival where Mexicans hang out with Russians, Indian folk hang out with Japanese, French hang out with Italian, and there is SO MUCH FOOD. You literally have to bring about $200 to taste it all and its’ completely worth it. Get your henna done, listen to music, watch the march of nations, and FINALLY get to taste REAL Bannick made by ACTUAL Indigenous hands instead of the crap we make at home just to feed the craving for the traditional bread.

ALL Of this makes Surrey fucking awesome and showcases just how many people come from around the world, JUST for this festival.

The Food Truck Festival was amazing, but it was crammed into Surrey City Hall instead of being done at Holland Park or spread out across the city which was dumb, the lines were too big, and there were WAY too many people for me, plus ALL the food was traditional multi-cultural food, so there was very little I could eat because of the spices. I’m a wimp – and I can handle spice, but I cannot handle Somalian spice. That made me sad, but but but, holy fuck, it smelled soooooooooo amazing! (And the best part? ha ha ha no cops.)

The Pride Festival is one of my favourites, because it’s the ONLY time in Surrey BC, that you see LGBTQ2S+ couples, partners, and humans, showcasing their love for people, regardless of gender identity labels, in particular. The only time.

Walk or drive down any street, and it’ll be VERY rare for you to see people of the same “gender identity,” holding hands or kissing. So the Pride festival brings lots of that and reminds us that love is love regardless of what other people think or say.

We need more festivals like this that gather people from the community, from ALL parts of the community.

A Strong, Well Equipt Police Service, That Is Trained By ALL the Programers, And Community Leaders, That Were Here before You New Cops Invade, Work, and Live in Our City

On the show SWAT the characters Luca and Street, move into a dangerous neighbourhood, rehab an old house and let everyone in that hood know they are cops. The point of this storyline is to remind people that cops are SUPPOSED to live in the communities that they serve.

I know several cops that work in Surrey BC but refuse to live here, that’s fucking disgusting. For a variety of reasons, namely safety, it’s difficult for a cop who works in Surrey to live in Surrey. They might – genuinely – be putting their families at risk if their neighbours know they are cops, and this is true in any city on the planet.

The problem however is that they will be taking over for several RCMP detachments that haven’t always done the best by Surrey residents. Some of it is crooked cops, some of it is politics, some of it is funding, and part of it is that a lot of Surrey Cops have absolutely no idea how to handle this community. Because We’ve never had a Police Force, We’ve always had RCMP, there are going to be a lot of growing pains.

In 1951, the RCMP began serving Surrey with an 18 man detachment in Cloverdale, serving a population of 35,000. Today (1990) a 271 person detachment, the largest in Canada, serves a population of over 225,000.

Surrey History dot ca

The RCMP like all government organizations was started in order to control the Indigenous population of Canada, that’s a historical fact, and over the last few generations we’ve had the highway of tears, the Missing and murdered Indigenous Inquest, and yet thousands of Indigenous and brown women, in particular, are murdered, have been murdered, or are missing, still.

If you’re coming into this community claiming to be a community leader or a cop, you need to go and explore the city. Talk to the local Food Bank volunteers, speak to the people at FRAFCA, ask to have a conversation with those in recovery programs like The Pheonix Center, and consider what you hear and learn from the people who live here. Talk to the community at Surrey Urban Mission, and the people that use their services.

Make it clear that if you are here to serve the community, this means you also want to be A PART of this community as well. At Surrey Pride I saw more than a half dozen cops, they were only talking to each other, they weren’t engaging in the event, they weren’t saying “hey we’re here to protect you but we also want to know who you are,” they made it very clear that they were ONLY here to protect the integrity of the event.

When we were at the church, cops that came to OUR events talked to people, volunteered to help move furniture or eating a meal with someone they’d never met before, they made a concentrated effort to be A PART of the event and to make it clear that they weren’t just here as RCMP, but that they were also there, to actually be you know, part of the community. That made a huge difference in their policing.

At our events, cops learned the names of the houseless people, they learned the names of families living in poverty, they talked with politicians, and rather than it is a “cops are here with guns to keep us safe,” it was “cops are here, and we’re eating a hot dog with a cop and laughing,” meanwhile in another world, that same person might be running for their lives from that same RCMP or police officer.

And when I would ask our non-cop friends how it felt, they would almost always say “we’ll see,” and honestly, when they weren’t around the church, SOME folks, not all, but some, got treated better, because the RCMP officers I should say, actually understood “this isn’t just a criminal or a victim, this is a person, and I actually know their name.” That translated into RCMP members treating their suspects, and the houseless people of this city differently. Better, would be a great word. For awhile.

Understand There ARe Clear Divisions In This City

Whether they be political, religious, gang, or familial, there are clear divisions in this city. There are parts of this city that most cops – in particular, refuse to go – where I or another community member might be perfectly safe to go in the same places.

There are certain groups that do not talk to each other, and again this may be political, it may be because of family ties, it may be because of gang ties, it may just because some people are afraid or triggered by certain people and communities, for whatever reason.

People in Surrey BC tend to stick with those that they know, and each group – religious spiritual etc. – is going to have different rules about how they invite outsiders – especially new neighbours, politicians, and police officers – into their section of our city.

Respect the differences, take the time to learn what they are, and honour them the best way that you can. Lots of Indigenous folks are being pushed out of Surrey in favour of growth, as are the houseless population of Surrey.

More and more programs have lost funding, are losing funding, or are being moved around the city, in favour of redevelopment, without really having any concept of what that redevelopment means to those of us who were here first.

Namely, FRAFCA and the Food Bank, while new programs are being created, that don’t necessarily serve the needs of those who are the most marginalized.

Future Police Officers in Surrey Have A Massive Opportunity Don’t Waste It

You’re coming into this city at the will of a man that most people in this town dislike. But you’re coming in without anyone knowing who you are, or what you could be, and that’s the chance you’ve been looking for your whole life. You are a brand new service member of this city, and that gives you the chance to decide what kind of service member you want to be.

Whether we like to admit it or not, whether we like cops, police, or RCMP or not, is unimportant. Cops – and security forces are not going anywhere. The world has gotten too violent for us to expect that cops are just going to lay down their guns so that we can have the lives we claim to want without them.

So they are here, get over it.

What you do here, as a police officer, is entirely up to you. Many kids around this city who are now adults, will tell stories to themselves or close allies of RCMP officers not doing the jobs that we needed them to do. Many women will tell you horrible stories, and you have the opportunity to change the way that people look at Police.

Take everything that I’ve said and hold it to your heart seriously. Sure you know where the best pizza is (It’s Surrey Central Uncle Fahti’s and there’s no better pizza in the province.), you know where the local laundromat is, but do you know where people get food?

Do you know where they go to get their weekly or monthly cheque? Do you know where they go in an emergency or how they get there if they don’t have a car and they can’t call the paramedics? Do you know why some folks are afraid to call the paramedics?

Do you know what the families here struggle with?

Do you care?

Because if the answer to that last question is no, we can’t use you in our city, you’ll be absolutely no good, and the chances of you killing someone are a lot higher if you don’ care about the lives that live here, than if you do.

You may not choose to live here, but even if you don’t, your job is going to be a lot easier if you make sure that you go out of your way to be a part of this community than coming in as yet another threat we who were here first have to face.

It’s beyond disgusting to me that there were more cops at the Pride Festival, on the same day as the Food Truck Festival than the other. That says a lot about what the police services think of the LGBTQ2S+ community, and that is a terrifying message.

More than once I tried to hand a cop a love letter, but only a few cops took one. one cop wouldn’t even look at me and went right back to his conversation.

That was really insulting, especially because of how much work I’ve done to make this community a better place. I felt like I was being dismissed, by a cop, who was brand new to this city. NOT a great look.

If you want to be successful as a cop, as a community leader, and as a member of this community, you have to remember that serving the community doesn’t just mean sitting or standing around looking tough.

It means showing each and every single one of us, that our existence as human beings matters to you, as another human. Period.

It’s been a long, long time, since any city on the planet, has gone through a transition of law enforcement, that is a massive opportunity for ALL new cops to ensure that their safety, is tied to us actually giving a fuck about you.

So do yourselves and US a favour, and make an effort to remember that it’s your job to keep this community safe, the best way to do that, is to ensure that you ACTUALLY show us you give a shit.

Sending all my love, and my good luck to the new Police Force, (because you’re going to need it,)

Devon J Hall

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