Surrey, B.C., city council is set to hear from the head of the municipal RCMP detachment as it votes on directing staff to craft a final plan to keep the Mounties and scrap the transition in progress to a new municipal force.
Reversing the transition, which has been underway since 2020 under the previous council, was a key election promise of new mayor Brenda Locke.
Locke’s Surrey Connect party has a majority on council, meaning should have no trouble moving those plans forward.
Assistant Commissioner Brian Edwards, officer in charge of the Surrey RCMP was slated to lay out the framework for maintaining the force as the city’s police of jurisdiction.
That framework is also laid out in a corporate report to council that, if approved, will initiate a final detailed plan to end the transition, to be voted on on Dec. 12.
City of Surrey police report leaves many questions unanswered
The report states that the city would need to onboard another 161 RCMP officers to fill the gap left by Surrey Police Service officers who have already been deployed and are currently working alongside Mounties.
The report envisions hiring SPS officers and recruits, along with RCMP cadets and experienced police officers. However, the Surrey Police Union says 94 per cent of its members have signed a pledge not to work for the RCMP.
The corporate report also identifies two former RCMP leaders, Peter German and Tonia Enger, as consultants who would help flesh out the final plan.
Surrey City council votes to keep RCMP
Absent from the report is any estimate on the cost of reversing the police transition, however it does note the city is already $20.6 million over budget on 2022 policing costs.
The SPS and the Surrey Police Board have estimated that “unrecoverable sunk costs” related to the transition are expected to reach $107 million by the end of December. Terminating the transition by January next year will result in a project investment loss of another $81.5 million.
If council accepts the report Monday night, then votes in two weeks to approve the resulting plan, the matter could be on Public Safety Minister and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth’s desk by Dec. 15.
Monday’s report envisions provincial approval on the plan could come as early as January, with a ramp-down of the Surrey Police Service beginning in March, 2023.
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