Surrey Police Service: Key assumptions in City of Surrey’s report raise concerns

SPS Chief Constable Norm Lipinski  Photo submitted

“This amount was previously purported to be $520M over four years by Surrey Connect during the recent municipal election”

 

THE Surrey Police Service (SPS) on Monday pointed out that as the City of Surrey continues to explore their options for the current policing transition, their Plan to Retain the RCMP as the Police of Jurisdiction in Surrey raises a number of concerns, stemming from the plan’s over-reliance on financial and human resource assumptions.

It said that it was not consulted on the City’s report, and is concerned that the assumptions and omissions in the report do not provide Surrey residents with an accurate picture of their options for the future of policing in Surrey.

Some of these concerns are:

*  Over-estimation (27-50%) of the number of SPS officers who would transfer to the Surrey RCMP that is not supported by the Surrey Police Union’s survey of its membership (94% stating they are not interested in joining the RCMP).

* Assumption that SPS will have difficulty recruiting the remaining 419 officers, when SPS has a proven ability to hire new and experienced officers with over 2,500+ applications received in under two years. This is unprecedented interest for any Canadian police agency. Conversely, the report does not mention the RCMP’s documented recruiting challenges and labour shortages.

* No consideration of the more than $100M in unrecoverable costs that the City and taxpayers have already invested in having their own municipal police service, including more than $17M in IT infrastructure that would primarily be incompatible with the RCMP IT environment.

* The notion of a nine-month pause to allow for the approval of phase two of the transition to SPS. During this period, the report asserts that no further RCMP officers would be demobilized, and no additional SPS officers would be deployed, while SPS would continue to hire. This is not a reasonable or fiscally responsible assumption.

* Assumption that the transition to SPS would take another five years. This is inconsistent with previous discussions between the three levels of government and seems excessive given SPS’s proven ability to hire.

* An estimation that SPS would cost $31.9M more per year than the RCMP, while SPS calculations estimate the cost difference would be $18.3M;

“We believe that the many assumptions made in this report have contributed to the City providing an inflated cost to taxpayers to continue with the transition to SPS, which they have stated is $235.4M over five years,” said SPS Chief Constable Norm Lipinski. “It should be further noted that this amount was previously purported to be $520M over four years by Surrey Connect during the recent municipal election.”

SPS said that until the provincial government makes the final decision on the policing transition, it remains committed to serving Surrey and to the provincially-approved policing transition plan. SPS has an obligation to continue with the deployments laid out in the plan, as the addition of our SPS officers are needed to maintain public safety and appropriate police staffing levels.

“This is truly an unprecedented situation where a police agency was approved and stood up over two years ago, and now a new Council is seeking to potentially reverse course and shut down a police agency with 375 employees who joined SPS in good faith,” said Lipinski. “This is a difficult situation for the employees of both SPS and the Surrey RCMP. I think it is safe to say that we are all hopeful for a prompt, but carefully considered decision by the [Public Safety] Minister early in the new year.”

Surrey Police Service is also preparing a report for the Province of BC that will detail SPS’s ability to police Surrey safely and effectively, and to achieve all of the requirements to become the police of jurisdiction in a timely manner. The report will be delivered to the Province by December 22.