The City of Surrey is asking Vancouver to assist in its transition out of RCMP in order to set up a municipal police force, according to a release issued Tuesday morning.
“An important next step in ensuring a timely and orderly transition has been initiated, with a request for technical assistance from the City of Vancouver and the Vancouver Police Department (VPD). Both cities will now work to develop a partnership agreement,” the release notes.
Mayor Doug McCallum and the new Surrey council passed a motion to pull out of the RCMP contract and “immediately create a Surrey Police Department,” just minutes after taking the Oath of Office on Nov. 5.
“The City of Surrey is the only major metropolitan area of its size in Canada that does not have its own municipal police service,” the Dec. 12 release states. “Just as Surrey has evolved and city infrastructure has grown with it, Mayor and Council are taking steps to advance how policing will be delivered in this city with the creation of a Surrey Police Department.”
The City of Surrey says it is “interested in leveraging the expertise of the City of Vancouver with the legal and financial issues related to policing” and also wishes to “leverage the VPD’s expertise on strategic planning, the development of a transition plan, and building an operational policing model. This will allow for the efficient and effective delivery of policing services as Surrey transitions to a municipal police department.”
Vancouver’s Deputy City Manager Paul Mochrie will work with Terry Waterhouse, Surrey’s General Manager of Policing Transition, on the development of a draft partnership agreement, according to the release.
Mayor Doug McCallum says VPD is “internationally recognized as a best-practice, evidence-based police service and the City of Surrey would like to create a similar model that takes a leading-edge approach to preventing and solving crime and social issues that impact our communities.”
“What Vancouver and its police department bring to the table are experience and knowledge that will help us create, in short order, a police department that meets the needs of our city and ensures the safety and security of all Surrey residents,” McCallum stated in the release.
Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart said it is “important we do all we can to fight crime across the region.”
“On behalf of the City of Vancouver and Vancouver Police Board, I have confirmed our interest and willingness to explore a formal partnership to support Surrey’s implementation of a municipal police department,” Stewart said in a release.
Meantime, Surrey First’s Linda Annis, the lone councillor not on McCallum’s slate, supported the unanimous resolution to pull out of the RCMP contract on Nov. 5, saying she would “like to support Mayor McCallum and council as this is one of their major platform issues.”
However, Annis was critical of the proposed budget for 2019, which would see no new police officers hired in the city in 2019.
The proposed budget, unveiled Dec. 3, suggests that no RCMP will be added to the current force, which has 843 members currently, given the city’s intended transition to a municipal force. In 2018, 12 officers were hired.
“The officer in charge for Surrey detachment had made a recommendation that we need 150 officers over the next five years and I believe that that’s very reasonable, that would provide him with the manpower that’s needed to adequately police Surrey,” Annis told the Now-Leader. “That’s minimal, based on the rapid growth Surrey is experiencing.”
Annis noted that Vancouver has roughly 1,400 police officers, making for one cop for every 451 Vancouver residents whereas Surrey’s current ratio is one for every 667 residents.
“By freezing hiring we’re going to make that ratio even worse, which means public safety is going to be jeopardized and that’s reckless and unacceptable,” Annis said. “Creating a Surrey police department is going to take time and resources, it’s not going to happen overnight. Meanwhile, city council has to make sure we provide the police and resources Surrey needs today.
Even without hiring any new officers, the city is looking at an additional $4.81 million in policing for costs such as the annualization of the 12 positions added this year, salary increases, operations and maintenance costs, and increased funding for integrated teams. Another $1.38 million in expenses is expected for RCMP support services.
Surrey’s top cop Dwayne McDonald said that while he feels “confident the city is safe,” he added Surrey “could be safer” with increased resources for 2019.
“I feel confident that we’re safe. I think that we could be safer in the sense that an increase in resources will allow us to expand many of our successful programs , certainly in the areas of proactive policing and also with our gang enforcement team and just in general duty patrol and traffic where we see all of our significant concerns,” McDonald said after the city’s Finance Committee meeting on Tuesday (Dec. 11).
McDonald said the Surrey RCMP’s “main safety concerns” are gang and gun violence, traffic safety and youth.
“So when we have a resource level that is fixed, that presents challenges as our population grows, but we’re committed to meet the public safety needs of the city in the best way we can with the resources and budget we’re given.”
Anytime the detachment doesn’t get an increase in resources, McDonald said, the Surrey RCMP has to look at its “deployment model and service delivery where adjustments need to be made.”