While the Surrey Police Service was hoping to hire 400 officers next year, the province has instead recommended hiring “that’s more in the 200-range,” says the SPS media liaison.
Ian MacDonald said that based on what the Surrey Police Service felt it had the “capability and capacity for was to bring on the 400 officers in 2022. That was our position.”
He said he looks at that “as kind of a testament to management staff here that we were prepared to bring on that many. That’s a lot of work, right, to bring on 400 new employees regardless of what your workplace is.”
However, about two weeks ago, MacDonald said Police Services told the SPS to scale back.
An emailed statement to the Now-Leader from the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General said the director of Police Services provided guidance to the police board “regarding an appropriate target for SPS’ hiring next year.” The guidance took into consideration the “potential regional, provincial, and local impacts.”
“The Director’s guidance takes into consideration factors such as the effects of officer attrition from other police agencies in BC, the JIBC Police Academy’s ability to accommodate increased recruit training needs, the Surrey RCMP’s ability to ramp-down, as well as ensuring efficiencies during the transition period,” reads the statement.
“SPS’ actual hiring will be influenced by several factors, and the Board’s Hiring Plan will need to take these into consideration; this process is still underway.”
MacDonald said the SPS doesn’t want to cause disruption to the justice institute’s system “or to the general landscape of law enforcement in the Lower Mainland.”
“We want to be conscious of the fact that we don’t want to upset the balance, particularly in the Lower Mainland when it comes to law enforcement and we absolutely have to work hand in hand with Surrey (RCMP) detachment when it comes to HR-related issues.”
Asked if this could delay the SPS moving forward, MacDonald said he doesn’t think so.
“We continue to progress and we continue to grow and we’re going to continue to hire. If the ultimate number for 2022 ends up being 200 rather than 400, then we’re still bringing on 200 more officers and we’re still building up.”
But Surrey First Coun. Linda Annis said this cap “reinforces ongoing calls for Surrey residents to weigh in” on who should police B.C.’s second-largest city.
“We knew all along that the SPS would have to poach officers from other police departments and the province has recognized the damage that can cause to police services across the region,” said Annis. “The entire SPS plan has been poorly thought out and this move by the province only reinforces that fact.”
She added that if the SPS “can only recruit a fraction of the officers they want and need, the result is more and more uncertainty about policing and public safety in our city.”
Meantime, Vancouver city Coun. Colleen Hardwick says Surrey can create its own force, but not at the expense of public safety in Vancouver or any other community.
“Surrey is entitled to create its own police department, but it shouldn’t be done at the expense of public safety here in Vancouver, or any other municipality in the region,” said Hardwick. “The VPD has already lost 21 officers to Surrey, so I applaud the provincial government’s cap. The alternative is a serious public safety issue right across Metro Vancouver.