A Surrey city councillor says that if the city switches to a municipal police force, it could be short boots on the ground from Day 1.
Coun. Jack Hundial, a former RCMP officer with 25 years of experience, said he came to the conclusion after combing through the Surrey policing transition report, which the city produced as it prepares to transition away from the RCMP and toward a municipal police force.
Hundial said Surrey still needs 30 new police officers to accommodate its growth in population, which amounts to about 800 new residents a month.
He pointed to a segment of the report that states it is acceptable for the new force to have just 80 per cent of its authorized strength the day it begins operations.
“Roughly 80 per cent of all Surrey PD patrol officers (sergeants and constables) should be hired, trained and deployable by the transition date. This means that most patrol districts will be operating in the short term at 80 per cent of their authorized strength,” reads page 167 of the report.
“As noted previously, this is a first approximation. This initial staffing level is acceptable and will not compromise deployment levels or negatively impact public safety.”
On Tuesday, Hundial said that provision has him worried.
“This whole transition report, if it is to be successful, it has to be thoroughly thought-out and phased in different parts. But to boldly come out and say: ‘Look, we’re moving to this but if we can only get about 80 per cent then we’re happy with that,’ … I don’t agree with that,” Hundial said.
“For something as complex and as important as this, you need to be able to at least maintain the minimum standards you have today and you should be improving upon them.”
According to the report, a full complement of patrol officers for the new Surrey Police Department would be 461 officers.
Public Safety Minister and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth said his ministry had received the report and was reviewing it with the city.
However, he said there were still some issues that need to be worked out.
“The human resource issue, in terms of … what additional resources, police officers are going to be required, how they’re going to be trained, and where they’re going to come from,” he said.
Hundial said the report also makes no mention of what he calls “unseen monetary costs,” including things like payouts for civil litigation, severance, grievances and overall insurance, which is currently paid for by the RCMP in Ottawa.