Reactions are coming in on Surrey’s plan to transition from the Surrey RCMP to a made-in-Surrey police force after the city’s 189-page report was released to the public on Monday afternoon, and they are not glowing.
“It is full of assumptions that I think are probably not accurate,” Councillor Brenda Locke told the Now-Leader, “so that is a concern to me. The second thing that screams at me in the report is that it doesn’t show the deficits of the RCMP, so it doesn’t identify why we’re replacing the RCMP with a Surrey police department. I would have liked to see that in the report.”
She noted even council members have not had much time to digest the plan, which is now before the provincial government for review.
“I think the worst thing about it is the fact the financials were not done and audited. They were reviewed, but they were not reviewed in a fulsome way. They were not given a comprehensive analysis of the financials, by Price Waterhouse Cooper, they were just given an overview by them so I think that’s probably a big concern.
“The best thing about the report,” she said, followed by a lengthy pause, “I don’t have anything, give me a minute.”
Councillor Jack Hundial, a retired Surrey Mountie said the best thing about the report is it starts the dialogue for better public safety for Surrey.
“It highlights areas where we need to improve, but it also highlights opportunities.”
Maybe I'm missing something about how McCallum's is going to make it all happen, but spending more money to create Surrey's very own police force with fewer officers than the current RCMP contingent doesn't make a whole helluva lot of sense. Nice work, Mayor Doug…
— Carmen D. Wiseman (@carmina_dub) June 3, 2019
I'm willing to pay more for more service. I'm not willing to pay more for less service. #SurreyBC Doug has a vendetta against the RCMP
— Darren (@dazcolumbo) June 3, 2019
“The worst part, the least favourite part of this, is I don’t see anything in this report that tangibly promotes enhanced public safety from what we have today. I don’t see that in here.”
“I think there’s a lot of boilerplate language in here and a lot of assumptions,” Hundial told the Now-Leader. “It will require a lot of extensive review. I could really see the province taking its time to review this.”
“Looking at this, it looks like it came at a price of quantity and quality.”
Said Locke, “I guess for me the good part about the report is that it was released, and that it was released by the City of Surrey. It was the taxpayers of Surrey that paid for this report.”
Councillor Linda Annis noted that the proposed Surrey Police Department would have 38 fewer police officers than the Surrey RCMP has.
“How can having fewer officers make our city safer,” she asks. She is calling on the provincial government and the city to have a referendum on final plans for a new police department.
“The report is a major disappointment and its approach to policing in our community and neighbourhoods only hurts public safety rather than making us safer,” Annis said.
Mayor Doug McCallum defended the plan during a press conference at city hall Monday afternoon, just two hours after the report was released.
Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum discusses city police force transition report released today. pic.twitter.com/D0vPefznWc
— Tom Zytaruk (@tomzytaruk) June 3, 2019
McCallum said an additional $10 million per year for a police force will make Surrey residents feel safer.
“I’ve had zero pushback on this except for a small group,” he said of the plan to transition from RCMP to a Surrey force.
The mayor said Mounties are tapping his shoulder, asking him “When can we join?”
“They would have to apply,” he said.
McCallum described the document as “one of the best” reports he has seen as a politician.
He said the report indicates RCMP is “top heavy” with management, and that 87 per cent of police officers under a new Surrey police force would be constables.
The mayor told reporters he waited two weeks to release the plan because the provincial government wanted to see it first.
He said city councillors had a week to review it.
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.
There are also an estimated $39.2 million in start-up costs that McCallum said will be split over four years, working out to roughly $10 million per year.
McCallum said “in comparison that’s not even the total of one swimming pool that we just recently built in South Surrey. It’s not even anywhere near the cost of what three rinks we’re going to open cost us in the city. It’s also not even close to our Clayton Community Centre we’re opening. When you look at $10 million a year, in a city budget, operating and capital is over a billion dollars every year. The $10 million is not a very large figure. For the purpose of, it’s going to… help every resident in the City of Surrey feel safer.”