The Surrey Police Board says $64 million has been allocated to the city’s transition to the Surrey Police Service from the Surrey RCMP in a “one-time investment” covering 2020 to 2024.
It’s also projecting that $17.2 million will be spent on the transition in 2021.
Elizabeth Model, head of the board’s finance committee, said during the Nov. 30 meeting that as of Sept. 30, 2021 the SPS has incurred $4.6 million in total expenditures excluding its ongoing contribution to the Lower Mainland integrated teams, “of which $4.4 million is for salaries and benefits” and $200,000 for other expenditures. A total of 120 employees were hired by Sept. 30, she added.
“The Lower Mainland integrated teams is now presented on a separate line,” Model noted. “Year to date, $12 million has been spent,” she added, with $100,000 of that representing “unfavourable variance due to timing.”
The Lower Mainland integrated teams provide policing services, like IHIT for example, throughout the Lower Mainland and are funded by each of the policing jurisdictions in the region, she noted, and this is “part of the SPS spend.”
Board member Cheney Cloke asked “just out of curiosity” why the SPS is spending money on the integrated teams when it is not yet operational.
“That’s a really great question,” Model replied. “It’s my understanding it’s to do with the city and their budgeting process.”
Chief Const. Norm Lipinski, officer in charge of the SPS, added, “We contribute to our share of the integrated teams’ expense.”
Cloke also asked Lipinski to speak to the provincial government’s announcement about the gradual integration of the SPS with the RCMP, “rather than the 400 officers that we planned on.
“How does that impact the operational budget and when will we know the true results of that impact?”
Lipinski replied, “We came in very high with our numbers, as you recall.
“We believe it should be 200. We believe it’s 200 in addition to the 50 that are presently ready for deployment and so as we look forward to next year our position is 250 all in, as far as deploy-able resources.”
Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum said the SPS sent a budget to the city that was based on the higher figures “and we are going to use that in our budgets, because we feel that both the province and the RCMP numbers for dispatching officers to Surrey is way low.”
“That determination has already been made in the city and it’s made by our community that has come forward and wants to see a lot more of our officers on the street than either the province or the RCMP want,” McCallum told the board. “We’re going with, as far as the budget, we are going with the community.
“They are the ones that will indicate what they want for a safe community and so we will be pushing back on both the province and the federal and the RCMP to go with your original, or the chief’s original figures that were quite a bit higher than what you’re seeing out there,” he said.
“We’re going to use that budget that you sent originally to be incorporated into our budgets, that will literally be done in the next day or so,” he said Nov. 30. “That’s where we’re at, then we’ll go with that overall budget for next year and we’ll put it through the process of public input and then give it four readings. We hope to have that all completed and done by the end of the year.”
Meantime, McCallum said last week’s deployment of the first 29 SPS officers, currently embedded with the RCMP, was “historic.”
“It truly is astonishing that we’ve done it, and we’re moving forward,” he said. “It’s actually a continuation of our Surrey Police Force of a whole number of years ago, where it’s now been rejoined and in fact our numbers of our first officers that were out today took from the end of our Surrey Police Force we had many, many years ago.”
As a result of a referendum, the Surrey RCMP replaced the Surrey Police Force on May 1, 1951 and the municipality entered into a cost-sharing agreement with the federal government.
“Certainly we’ve been excited around Surrey all day,” McCallum said.
In August, the SPS said it would be putting 50 of its officers on the streets by Nov. 30, but only 29 have been to date. The National Police Federation, which negotiates on behalf on the RCMP for collective bargaining, issued a press release calling out the SPS for not deploying the 50 like it said it would, or having “boots on the ground” as promised by April 21, 2021.
“Despite a stream of photo-ops and announcements, there is still no clear plan or timeline for the full deployment and launch of the potential Surrey Police Service,” said Surrey resident Trevor Dinwoodie, the NPF’s pacific director and former Surrey RCMP Staff Sergeant.
“Surrey residents do not want this added cost or this transition, and have made it very clear they do want a full cost accounting and a referendum on the issue.”
Lipinski told the Surrey Police Board that only 29 of the 50 have been deployed so far because the other 21 are awaiting RCMP security clearance.
“Because we are embedded in the RCMP we have to go through their security clearance process. If you are a former RCMP member that takes about a month. If you are a municipal police officer, it takes up to 22 weeks,” he explained. “As soon as they get cleared they’ll be ready to deploy.”
Lipinksi told the board the SPS is looking to set up a “specific leasing model” in each of Surrey’s “six town centres, five districts” and will have community advisory committees in each district.
The next Surrey Police Board meeting is set for Jan. 19.
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