“If these officers had been deployed since March, many of these recent stabbings could have been prevented”
WHAT IS PUBLIC SECURITY MINISTER MIKE FARNWORTH DOING ABOUT THIS SITUATION?
SURREY Councillors Doug Elford and Mandeep Nagra have issued a scathing rebuke of Surrey Mayor Brenda Locke and the RCMP for playing politics with public safety and putting lives at risk.
Elford has accused Locke of creating a double standard by requesting more police resources from the Province while actively preventing 33 experienced Surrey Police Service (SPS) officers from being deployed to patrol the streets of Surrey to prevent crime, making the city less safe.
Elford believes that the safety of Surrey residents should be the top priority, and that Locke’s actions to keep the RCMP are putting the community at risk.
“I am shocked to hear that the RCMP is playing politics with public safety in our city that they are willing to go so far to prevent experienced SPS officers from being deployed to prevent crime,” said Nagra. “If these officers had been deployed since March, many of these recent stabbings could have been prevented. These experienced SPS officers are currently being paid by taxpayers and should immediately be given the green light to patrol our streets.”
Elford and Nagra are calling on Locke and the RCMP to immediately authorize the deployment of the 33 SPS officers and prioritize the safety of Surrey residents. They are also calling on the RCMP to honor the Joint SPS-RCMP Human Resources Strategy and Plan agreement signed in 2022, and immediately allow the officers to be deployed.
“If the RCMP continue to prevent these officers from being deployed, we will be calling on the Federal and Provincial governments to step in and ensure that the agreement is being followed,” Elford said. “The safety of Surrey residents is not something that should be played with for political gain.”
Elford and Nagra’s condemnation comes as the City of Surrey faces an increase in violent crime, including multiple stabbings on transit, gang shootings, and an act of terrorism by ISIS occurring in recent weeks. The SPS officers, who are ready and willing to patrol the city, could help prevent such incidents in the future.
As the police board chair, it’s Locke’s responsibility to ensure that Surrey is safe. Elford and Nagra believe that the mayor has failed in her duty to protect the community and is putting the safety of Surrey residents at risk.
JESSIE Sunner, Vice Chair of Surrey Police Board, in a letter to Locke and Surrey City Council on April 18 wrote:
On May 4, 2022, the Joint SPS-RCMP Human Resources Strategy and Plan (the “HR Plan”) was executed under the direction of the Surrey Policing Transition Trilateral Committee (SPTTC). The HR Plan outlined the terms, conditions, timeline, and cadence for SPS Officers to be deployed into the Surrey RCMP Municipal Policing Unit under the Assignment Agreement.
The HR Plan, and subsequent discussions with the RCMP, provided agreement that 35 SPS Experienced Officers would be deployed as Cohort 8 in March 2023. This number included 14 SPS recruits, scheduled to graduate from the JIBC on March 10, 2023. In February 2023, the RCMP advised SPS that they would only accept the 14 graduating SPS Officers for deployment, and that no SPS Experienced Officers would be deployed in March. The parties held subsequent discussions on the RCMP’s unilateral decision that were unsuccessful in changing the RCMP’s decision. The Province was also advised of the RCMP’s decision on Cohort 8.
The unilateral decision of the RCMP to accept no SPS Experienced Officers for deployment in March and to deny all lateral moves of SPS Officers, put SPS behind in fulfilling the agreed upon HR Plan. The HR Plan stipulates that SPS should have deployed 260 Assigned Officers by March of 2023. To date, SPS has deployed 220 officers, 40 less than the agreed to number.
The RCMP’s decision not to accept SPS Officers for the positions previously agreed to in the HR Plan has serious financial implications resulting from the duplication of positions and the under utilization of policing resources. The monthly carrying cost (salaries and benefits) of the 33 resources that the RCMP is unwilling to accept for deployment is $553K per month.
The Surrey RCMP continue to put out regular calls for overtime because minimum staffing levels cannot be achieved, adding additional cost to the Surrey policing model and additional stress to both RCMP and SPS Officers. Approximately 33 SPS Officers remain available for immediate deployment. The deployment of these Officers would bring SPS closer to fulfilling the terms of the HR Plan and relieve the financial burden on the City to pay for the duplication of positions resulting from the RCMP’s failure to adhere to the HR Plan.
SPS has hired Experienced Officers in good faith, to fulfil its obligations under the HR Plan. The RCMP’s refusal to accept these SPS Officers means that they cannot work in the positions they were hired to fill. Surrey residents are not well served by the RCMP’s decision.
The RCMP are also currently unwilling to begin planning for Cohort 9, the previously agreed upon May 2023 deployment. This will result in a further exacerbation of the current surplus of SPS officers ready to deploy to serve the residents of Surrey.
The Surrey Police Board believes that Mayor and Council should be fully aware of the impacts of the RCMP’s continued refusal to deploy these experienced SPS officers.