The vast majority of Surrey residents have changed their tune on transitioning to a municipal police force due to COVID-19, according to the findings of a new survey conducted by Pollara Strategic Insights on behalf of National Police Federation (NPF).
As of the latter half of April, 83% of survey respondents indicated they do not want funding to be used for the transition from the existing RCMP services to the municipally operated police service, with 90% believing available resources should instead be dedicated to urgent priorities arising from the pandemic.
Just 16% of residents are saying that replacing the RCMP with a municipal police force should be a top priority right now — down from 48% in January 2020.
It should be noted that the NPF is the bargaining entity of 20,000 RCMP regular members and reservists.
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Prior to the pandemic, a full report on the transition found that the Surrey Police Department will carry an operating cost of $193 million in 2021, about $19 million more than the RCMP. There would also be one-time transition capital costs of $45 million, including new IT systems, facilities, and vehicle transition.
The city has established April 1, 2021, as the launch date for the new service. Surrey has been developing its transition plans in partnership with the City of Vancouver and the Vancouver Police Department, and the plan was granted provincial approval in August 2019. City council provided the plan with its final approval in February 2020.
In a release today, the municipal government has indicated it is continuing to make progress on the transition, made evident by the recent hire of an executive director for the Surrey Police Board. It has also closed applications for the Surrey Police Board and has commenced the interview process to select members to fill board seats.