A SAFE COMMUNITY
A Safe Community
A SAFE COMMUNITY
People enjoy living where they also feel safe. Langley City's "Crime Severity Index" is significantly higher than both Langley Township and the BC average. We have our work cut out for us to ensure our residents are safe, feel confident and enjoy living in the community in which they live.
While adequately resourcing our police services in maintaining order with law enforcement; there is much more that goes into creating a safe community than having police on every corner. That’s just not realistic , too costly in property tax and probably wouldn’t make you feel safe either.
It starts with you and me. We each contribute to creating a safe environment.
Foundational in creating a safe environment is a common and shared value and respect for community as a whole and for the individual person - regardless of age, race, gender, ability, or religion.
Whenever and where ever we see a lack of this being displayed or an injustice taking place we have a duty and responsibility to community and to the respect for an individual to take action in some way. That action is different for each scenario. It may be as simple as giving a bottle of water to someone on a hot day, reporting a vehicle swerving on the road; to calling 911 because someone is be physically beat up.
There is then the role policing and law enforcement plays within our community. Ensuring we are properly resourcing our police services is of course paramount within Langley City.
Langley City is the most expensive for policing services per capita (Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General Policing and Security Branch Police Resources in British Columbia, 2020) for any municipality with a population over 15,000 in the Lower Mainland. These costs have since increased $1.3M with the retroactive pay increase from 2017 and the planned addition of 6 new members in Langley City. We simply cannot afford to grow the our force at this rate.
We need to address the expectation of services that our police are being loaded with. Police have been tasked with responding to issues for which they are not always the sole appropriate service provider.
We need to release them to do what they should be doing and not continue to burden them with more and more tasks due to gaps elsewhere in our systems.
This is due, in part, to a lack of alternatives and insufficient health, mental health, and social supports
There should be greater coordination and collaboration across police officers, health and mental health professionals, and community organizations to ensure the most appropriate first response for the individual concerned, followed by appropriate support.
With the growing level of mental health issues experienced in calls for policing services I would advocate and work towards programs such as “Car 87 or 67” operating in Vancouver since 1978 and Surrey respectively. This is where Mental Health specialists are teamed with specially trained RCMP and respond to requests from patrol officers for mental health assistance.
They determine the most appropriate action in each case, which can include immediate referrals for community-based mental health services or emergency intervention; reduceing the need for patrol response and unnecessary hospital admissions, while connecting people in crisis to the appropriate services in the community.
I would also seek to have the City re-examine the Community Safety Officer (CSO) program it shelved last year. The program was proven extremely successful within Maple Ridge and other communities thereby utilizing proper resources appropriately within the community with greater efficiency in policing and CSO file closure rate of 93% within 48 hours. Maple Ridge has since expanded it formally into the “Community Safety Social Initiative” for more information follow this link
This obviously would require an increase in Bylaw services - but must be balanced with the improved and increased services by the RCMP and appropriate utilization of their specialist skills.
We must also continue to work towards adequate resourcing for our Fire Dept and Emergency responders here. Langley City as one of the fastest growing municipalities must keep pace with our Fire Dept’s services. I am very concerned for the health and welfare of these first responders who have been servicing daily incredible life saving measures with the overdose crisis we face.
Even more important and a reason to expand a community based collaboration of services addressing addiction and mental health services. Access to these services will save lives and allow our first responders to not be compromised in emergency response in our future growth.
Community Safety is an essential requirement we all want and need but we need to keep in careful balance cost and service efficiencies gained through seeking best practices in other municipalities and community collaboration.
If you have any further questions please don’t hesitate to reach out and message me - I would love to hear more from you and what you think about ensuring Langley City remains a SAFE COMMUNITY for ALL at ALL times.