Surrey targets April 2021 start date for police force, city says in transition plan – CBC.ca

Surrey targets April 2021 start date for police force, city says in transition plan - CBC.ca
Surrey police transition plan: fewer officers, higher cost
The city made the announcement in the release of its long-anticipated transition plan detailing what a new policing model for the municipality would look like.

The report says a force would cost $192.5 million in 2021 — a 10.9 per cent increase over the projected costs of keeping the RCMP — and would have 805 police officers and 20 "Community Safety Personnel". 

Currently, Surrey RCMP have an authorized strength of 843 police officers. The city says there are 51 vacancies — but the RCMP says all of those jobs are being backfilled with staff provided by the RCMP.  

Making staffing numbers a little more complicated, Surrey RCMP also provides 58 of its members to five regional agencies, including the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team, the Emergency Response Team, and the Police Dog Service. Sturko noted all the units serve the Surrey community.

Creating an independent police force and terminating the policing contract with the RCMP was a main campaign promise of Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum in last October's election. The city is the largest in Canada under RCMP jurisdiction. 

The 51-officer discrepancy between Surrey RCMPs 843 members and the 792 cited in the report might be explained by temporary vacancies at the detachment, including Mounties on sick leave and maternity leave. Sturko said those positions are covered by outside RCMP officers.

The report must be approved by the provincial government before the city can begin the transition. In a statement, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth said "we are in the process of analyzing the details within Surrey's report and will not be commenting on the individual elements at this time."

Surreys transition report also recommends that the Surrey Police Department continue relying on all five of the same agencies. Its unclear whether the force would also need to put up 58 of its 805 members to do so.

During the 2018 election campaign, McCallum promised that Surrey would have its own police force within two years, and last month he said he expected the force would be up and running by July 2020. 

In addition, the report estimates between 2019 and 2022, Surrey will spend $11.8 million on recruiting and equipping new staff, $7.6 million on IT systems and facilities, and $400,000 transitioning vehicles. 

The report does not say why additional time is needed but states "the comprehensive analysis established that a transition from contracted policing to municipal policing is viable within the proposed timeline" and says accepting applications for staff will begin in 2020. 

Under the plan, Surreys municipal force would "go live" on April 1, 2021, with an estimated annual budget of $192.5 million, 10.9 per cent higher than the RCMPs projected operating costs for that year.

McCallum also said a police force would cost Surrey taxpayers slightly more but argued the RCMP would likely increase wages in future years, negating the difference — an assumption the report also makes. 

The proposed Surrey Police Department would have 805 members, according to a newly released report detailing the citys transition plans – but is that an increase or a decrease over the current RCMP staffing?

In addition, McCallum campaigned extensively on the benefits of moving to an independent police force, he made no guarantees it would result in an increase in officers. 

An effort by a Ladner church to show its support for the rights of gay and transgender people has caught the attention of local vandals in what some members of the community are calling an act of hate.

While Surrey would have less overall police officers than currently budgeted, the report states an independent force would have 16 per cent more frontline patrol officers but a direct comparison to current RCMP staffing levels was not made available. 

Though exact comparisons to the status quo were unavailable, McCallum focused on the benefits that would come with more frontline officers.

"I'm more concerned that we get more feet on the ground out in public, so the public can see our police working in their communities and living in our communities and working with our communities," he said. 

"That's far more important to our residents than having management sit behind a desk and never get out and patrol our streets or talk to our residents."

But it appears the Surrey Police Department would employ 38 fewer sworn officers – at least compared to the 843 that have reportedly been working at the Surrey RCMP since last year. 

"We're all happy, because they're promising more boots on the street and more officers in the schools," he said.  

City councillors approved the transition report earlier this year behind closed doors, and made it public Monday afternoon amid growing calls for transparency in the process.

Linda Annis, the lone city councillor not elected with McCallum's Safe Surrey Coalition, argued a change to an independent force needed to approved directly by voters.

"The report to the provincial government reflects no public input, and I think Surrey taxpayers and voters will be perplexed by the reduced number of officers," she said. 

"The proposed Surrey Police Department is a major change and any final plans must be voted on by the taxpayers of Surrey."

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The new force will cost 10.9 per cent more, with operating costs of $192.5 million projected for 2021

SURREY (NEWS 1130) – The City of Surrey has released its plan for a transition from the RCMP to a municipal police force.

The report suggests the Surrey Police force will have funding for 805 officers, compared to the RCMP’s budgeted 843 members. The new force will cost 10.9 per cent more, with operating costs of $192.5 million projected for 2021. The RCMP’s estimated cost in three years is $173.6 million.

The report to the provincial government reflects no public input, and I think Surrey taxpayers and voters will be perplexed by the reduced number of officers. Frankly, this is a far cry from what we need and a demonstration of decisions made behind closed doors.

“I’ve said it probably a thousand times over the last six months, that it would cost more than ten per cent,” he said at a press conference just after the report’s release on Monday, adding he was elected on the issue and voters knew what to expect.

“The Surrey RCMP detachment has an authorized strength of 843 RCMP members as of 2019, although it currently carries 51 vacancies. As a result, the Surrey RCMP has a funded strength of 792 officers,” reads the report.

“Our people feel unsafe out there, and they want our own Surrey police force. That’s why we ran and that’s why I’m sitting here today.”

But with more money, Surrey will have fewer police officers on the street. Instead, the five per cent increase in staff will be filled by more civilian positions and Community Safety Personnel.

McCallum says the new force will save significantly on administration costs. The city currently spends nearly $45 million a year on administration, including $20 million for the RCMP’s E Division headquarters.

The report says RCMP officers are seeking a pay increase to align with police wages throughout the country and if wage parity were achieved, the gap between the cost of the RCMP and a municipal force would be eliminated.

The report states Surrey is the only Canadian municipality with over 300,000 residents that doesn’t have a local police force and adopting the model would allow the city to better adapt to the growth it has experienced.

Linda Annis, the only Surrey city councillor not elected as part of McCallum’s Safe Surrey Coalition, said the proposed Surrey Police Department would have 38 fewer officers than the current RCMP detachment allows.

But Surrey City Councillor Linda Annis says she isn’t confident the transition plan will work, and is calling for a referendum on switching forces.

“I think it will be significantly hard to properly police Surrey. We need more officers, officers cost money, and we can’t do it by reducing the number of officers and increasing the number of employees,” Annis says. “Civilians in community policing will not make people in Surrey feel safer. What they need is more officers on the ground. We need to be looking at getting somewhere in the area of 300 police officers.”

She adds current RCMP officers would have to apply for a job with the new force and it’s not a given they would be able to simply transfer.

A new municipal police force in Surrey would cost 10.9 per cent more than the current RCMP force, according to the Surrey police transition plan that was finally made available to the public Monday.

*Says there are 843 Mounties (90% paid by the city, 10% paid by the feds)*58 of these positions go to Lwr. Mainland Integrated Teams *RCMP provides 51 additional spots to cover things like mat/sick leave*City employs 302 muni. workers

“As already stated, we are in the process of analyzing the details within Surreys report and will not be commenting on the individual elements at this time.

McCallum confirms that yes, current Surrey RCMP officers would have to apply for the new force, but says he’s already been approached by officers asking when applications will open.

The publication of the report was stalled in May as the provincial government performed their review. After its release on Monday, B.C. Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth told NEWS 1130 in a statement: Ive said from the beginning that I thought it was important for the report to be made public for the citizens of Surrey. As already stated, we are in the process of analyzing the details within Surreys report and will not be commenting on the individual elements at this time.

When asked for its response to the report, the Surrey RCMP provided a statement that said, in part: “As the RCMP is a service provider only, we won’t express our opinion or analysis of the City of Surrey’s report, nor is it appropriate for us to publicly discuss the feasibility of the proposed plan,” and “The RCMP will cooperate fully, and provide input when requested by the Province.”

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