Surrey’s mayor-elects wants local police force, Richmond opted out: Here’s why

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In his election campaign, incoming mayor Doug McCallum promised to swap out the RCMP for a local municipal police force.

Richmond looked to do the same a few years back but decided not to, primarily because of cost.

A report commissioned by Richmond council in 2015 found it would have cost Richmond more than $19 million to transition to a local police force with a two-year timeline, and the annual operating cost would increase by about $4 million.

READ MORE: New Surrey mayor Doug McCallum sticks with plans for RCMP and rapid transit

Residents would have also seen a one per cent to two per cent bump in their property taxes, the report found.

WATCH: What does Surrey need to do to establish its own police force?

What Surrey need to have a change to a municipal police force?
What Surrey need to have a change to a municipal police force?

Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie said there was too much uncertainty.

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“Those are not very conservative figures or assumptions being made. The operating cost increase could be considerably more than that, and I think the transition cost could be more than the 19 million that it says. I think under certain circumstances you can see transition costs double that,” said Brodie.

There is also extra work involved in making the switch. A city’s local mayor would need to chair an independent police board with the RCMP out of the picture.

READ MORE: Should Surrey get its own police department? Councillor wants to put it to a referendum

With Richmond’s lower crime rate, Brodie said he’s happy with the RCMP.

“Surrey, I believe feels there are local issues that aren’t being addressed by the RCMP… and that’s motivating them. We always thought our local RCMP detachment has done a good job. The problems for us were high up, so cost, governance. We’re pleased with our local detachments and I don’t think they are,” said Brodie.

The 2015 report found that Richmond would lose federal subsidies and RCMP pensions would not be transferable to municipal plans.

But the report also notes advantages to a local force, including lower population to police ratio and the ability to create specialized programs to local issues.

If Surrey decides to follow through, the transition would likely cost than in Richmond: Surrey has 835 officers, four times the number currently employed by the Richmond RCMP.

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