City of Surrey unveils transitional plan for municipal police force

Jun 3 2019, 8:18 pm

The City of Surrey has released a transitional plan, detailing the move from the RCMP to a municipal police force.

The motion to create a city-based police department was first approved by the Surrey City Council on November 5, 2018.

The plan stresses that a local police force will be “more responsive” to the changing conditions and demands of the community. It’s also mentioned that out of the 19 Canadian population centres with more than 300,000 residents, Surrey is the only community that doesn’t have a local police force.

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The proposed staffing model for the Surrey Police Department

At this point in time, the RCMP currently hires contracted police officers for Surrey under a municipal agreement.

The Surrey RCMP has “an authorized strength” of 843 members, although there are currently 51 vacancies. The City of Surrey also has 302 employees who directly support the Surrey RCMP.

The costs of these employees, as well as all police facilities, are paid for by the city.

The Surrey Police Department’s proposed staffing model includes an increase of 5%. After the transition, the Surrey PD would be composed of a total of 1,150 employees — 805 officers, 325 civilian positions, and 20 Community Saftey Personnel (CSP).

The plan also explains that the new staffing model will include 16% more frontline patrol officers. 84% of officers in the Surrey PD will be constables.

Increased visibility in the community, tiered policing (through the use of community safety personnel), and focus on youth engagement, are all mentioned as benefits of using a municipal force.

The projected operating cost of the Surrey Police Department

The newly-released plan also includes an operating budget and the projected expenses that are required in this transition.

According to the report, “the implementation of the Surrey PD will take place over three separate city budget years: 2019, 2020, and 2021.”

The report also projects that under an RCMP-based police force, annual costs would total $173.6 million in 2021.

The annual operating budget of the Surrey Police Department is expected to be $192.5 million, 10.9% more than the RCMP’s current model.

‘One-time’ investments and transitional staffing costs

The transitional plan also includes a one-time capital investment and transitional staffing cost, both of which are required for the launch of a municipal force.

The report also calls for a one-time, $19.8 million investment that’s meant to support the adoption of a city-based police force.

The capital investment can be broken down as follows:

  • $11.8 million: Used to recruit, administer, and equip newly hired staff.
  • $7.6 million: Used to transition existing, upgrade, and replace IT systems and infrastructure.
  • $0.4 million: Used to repurpose existing marked vehicles with Surrey PD branding.

These costs will be non-recurring and can be amortized over three or more fiscal years, according to the report.

A number of transitional staffing costs are also required and will be implemented over the course of four fiscal years:

  • 2019: $3.3 million
  • 2020: $8.7 million
  • 2021: $7.1 million
  • 2022: $0.3 million

The staffing costs will cover the hiring of Surrey PD officers and civilian support resources.

The projected launch date

According to the report, the projected launch date of the Surrey Police Department will be April 1, 2021.

A full version of the transitional plan can be found here.