The president of the union representing local municipal workers says he is dismayed by a recommendation by Delta Police Board to close its holding cells and take prisoners to Surrey RCMP headquarters in South Newton.
However, Delta Police say the move will save taxpayers more than $1 million and will improve the safety of both staff and prisoners.
“Our members are concerned about this for several reasons,” said Darryl Robison president of CUPE Local 454. “One is the obvious loss of approximately one full-time and nine part-time positions, but we will also see our Delta police officers taking prisoners to Surrey, which clearly makes them unavailable to respond to events in Delta.”
Robison suggested the move might be a first step toward moving to a regional policing model, pointing out the Delta Police Board is considering contracting out the work of dispatchers and other civilian staff. Both Delta Police Chief Jim Cessford and Mayor Lois Jackson, who serves as chair of the Delta Police Board, have previously stated they don’t support a regional policing model, but Robison said these steps contradict those statements.
Robison said based on statistics collected between 2009 and 2011, the move means there could be more than 1,000 trips to Surrey a year by Delta Police officers.
“That is far too much time away from our community,” said Robison. “Our Delta Police officers should be spending their shift in Delta, not Surrey.”
Delta Police began negotiations with Surrey RCMP last year to have suspects who are being held overnight or longer to be transferred to Surrey. Suspects will remain in Delta holding cells if police plan to release them the same day.
The Surrey facility is located about 4 km from the Delta border, and is significantly closer to North Delta than the existing holding cells in Ladner.
Delta Police deputy chief Rich Drinovz said the local constabulary reviewed its detention facility service and believe that the safety of our staff, officers and the prisoners is not up to standard due to the condition of the facility.
“The costs could range from $1- to $1.5-million to bring the facility up to standard,” he said. “This is not possible at the moment so we are proposing an agreement with the City of Surrey to lodge long term prisoners for the time being.”
The agreement still needs to be approved by Delta Council.
CUPE Local 454 represents over 900 lifeguards, water workers, civilian jail guards, museum workers, gardeners, inspectors, clerks, surveyors, police dispatchers, and other professionals that work for the Corporation of Delta, Delta Police Board, and the Delta Museum and Archives.