Much More to Consider in Determining Fate of Surrey’s Policing Transition
Surrey, BC - The Surrey Police Board (SPB) and Surrey Police Service (SPS) are expressing concern that Surrey City Council will be considering a report this evening and potentially determining the future of Surrey’s policing transition without comprehensive information on SPS staffing levels or the financial implications associated with reversing the transition.
City staff have prepared a report for council’s consideration without the benefit of a briefing by the SPB or SPS, which would have ensured an accurate accounting of all human resource and financial aspects of the issue.
Instead, the report inaccurately reflects SPS’s current staffing, citing only the 154 deployed SPS officers, which the reports notes is 21% of the “targeted strength of 734 police officers”. However, SPS has a total of 315 police officers, which represents 43% of the targeted strength. The additional 161 officers are waiting for deployment (35 at the end of November) and/or working in administrative roles that are required for either the normal functioning of any police agency, or to develop the infrastructure for a new police service.
The SPB also employs 59 civilians, of which 34 (58%) were hired from outside the City of Surrey/RCMP Detachment to fill positions not required in RCMP detachments. All told, at least 349 sworn and civilian employees would be terminated from their employment if the transition was reversed. Alternatively, the transition away from the RCMP would see RCMP officers being re-assigned to other detachments/units, most likely within the Lower Mainland.
The report also fails to highlight a number of significant financial implications for council’s consideration, which include almost $108.3 million in costs incurred to date, as of October 31st and the prospect of a massive severance liability. Reversing the transition would result in an estimated $188.5 million loss of investment into SPS, which is approximately six months away from being operationally ready to become the police of jurisdiction. Furthermore, our recently completed financial forecast of steady state operations projects a $18.3M cost difference between SPS and the RCMP, which should be considered, for an informed decision. The report also inaccurately attributes the $20.6 million policing budget shortfall to SPS, when the City previously attributed the overage to the RCMP in their Q2 2022 financial corporate report.
In order for council to make an informed decision on the future of Surrey’s policing model, the SPB and SPS believe that council needs to consider a number of factors not contemplated in the city’s report, including:
- Documented inability of the RCMP to provide adequate staffing in BC and across Canada.
- Surrey RCMP’s ongoing issues to staff the detachment appropriately for both sworn and civilian positions (including the staffing of the critical Operational Communication Centre).
- Lack of interest by SPS officers to join the RCMP (94%, as per the Surrey Police Union).
- Accurate staffing numbers for SPS and the financial and human implications of terminations, including the cost of severances.
- Details on the non-recoverable costs, including the majority of SPS IT equipment, which is not compatible with RCMP infrastructure.
The Surrey Police Board and Surrey Police Service want to ensure that city council has the full picture of the status of the policing transition, including an accurate accounting of the financial, human resources and public safety implications, so they can make an informed decision on this matter.