After months of speculation and controversy, the 189-page Surrey Policing Transition Report has been released to the public.
The City of Surrey’s proposed transition plan to convert from RCMP states the force will “go live” on April 1, 2021 and its operating costs will be $192.5 million that year.
That’s a 10.9 per cent increase from the $173.6 million the city projects the RCMP would cost that year. The report states that a unionization drive is underway within the RCMP and if achieved, “the gap between the cost of the Surrey RCMP and the cost of the Surrey PD would be eliminated.”
There are also an estimated $39.2 million in start-up costs.
Between 2019-2021, the plan proposes to spend $11.8 million on recruiting and equipment, $7.6 million on IT systems and facilities and $0.4 million on vehicle transition, totalling $19.8 million.
The remaining $19.4 million in start-up costs will pay for a “phased staff transition”: $3.3 million in 2019, $8.7 million in 2020, $7.1 million in 2021 and $0.3 million in 2022.
While the proposed municipal force would have fewer officers, the report says it would have more staff overall.
Currently, Surrey RCMP has 843 members although the city report says 51 of those positions are vacant, meaning a “funded strength” of 792 officers. There are also 302 City of Surrey employees supporting the RCMP.
Surrey RCMP, however, says they don’t have 51 vacant positions but that those positions are created to cover temporary vacancies, when needed, such as maternity or sick leaves.
“It is important to note that we currently have a full complement of police officers at Surrey Detachment,” Surrey RCMP said in an emailed statement after the report’s release.
The transition report suggests a new municipal force in Surrey would have 805 police officers, 325 civilian positions and 20 Community Safety Personnel.
The force would operate with “tiered policing,” with the Community Safety Personnel taking on “lower priority, lower risk, and lower complexity policing tasks in order to better leverage frontline sworn resources.”
But, the new force would have “more boots on the ground,” according to the report, by way of a 16 per cent increase in frontline patrol officers.
“In addition, 84 per cent of Surrey PD officers will be constables,” the report notes. “The organizational structure of the Surrey PD was designed to maximize the number of frontline practitioners.”
The report states that staff will increase by five per cent overall, that there will be a 16 per cent increase in frontline officers and a 29 per cent increase in school liaison and youth officers.
“The Surrey PD will build strong relationships with Surrey youth and engage in gang prevention activities, youth diversion programs, and youth counselling referrals,” the report states.
As for vehicles?
“It is the City of Surrey’s position that the City of Surrey purchased and will opt to maintain ownership of all equipment originally obtained for use by the RCMP during the course of the contract. This will include the fleet of police vehicles currently used by the Surrey RCMP.”
The proposed force would be led by a police board, chaired by the mayor.
It would have “civilian oversight and direct influence on all matters of governance, including budget, policy and strategy,” according to the report. “The police board would be empowered to govern the municipal police department. The primary governance functions of a police board are to hire the Chief Constable, provide budget oversight, approve policy, develop the Strategic Plan, and act as the authority taking action in response to ‘service or policy’ complaints.”
The document states PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP was contracted by the City of Vancouver – who helped Surrey create the plan – to review, assess and provide comments on the transition proposal.
More to come.