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Long-awaited Surrey Policing Transition Report released

Click to play video 'Highly anticipated Surrey police transition report released' Highly anticipated Surrey police transition report released
The annual budget for the Surrey civic police force is projected to be less than the RCMP but with the loss of government subsidies, the cost to taxpayers will likely be substantially higher. Sarah MacDonald explains – Mar 11, 2020

The public is finally getting a look at the highly-anticipated report into transitioning the Surrey RCMP to a municipal Surrey Police Department (SPD).

Former attorney general and judge Wally Oppal chaired the committee that produced the report, which the province approved in February.

According to the 455-page document released Wednesday, Surrey’s new force could be up and running by April 1, 2021 at the earliest, with 805 officers and a total staff of 1,150 people.

The report highlights six “major issues” related to the transition.

READ MORE: Questions linger over whether Surrey can reach April 1, 2021 goal for local police force

Those include addressing pensions and contracts, recruitment, training, information management and technology, investigative continuity and business impacts.

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The report found that “the establishment of the SPD, while ambitious, is also achievable if assumptions and risks noted in the report can be successfully addressed and managed.”

The report says the transition would provide for a five-per cent increase in staff, 16-per cent increase in front line patrol officers, and a 29-per cent increase in school liaison and youth officers.

Taking 2021 as a test case, the report looked at the existing RCMP model and imagined it compared to a purely municipal model from a cost perspective.

The report says Surrey would benefit from an annual savings of about $2.7 million achieved by no longer having to pay a portion of RCMP recruiting and training costs.

But the report found the SPD would result in a net increased cost to the city of about $18.9 million, after the loss of federal subsidies and provincial tax exemptions granted to the RCMP.

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Click to play video 'Surrey mayor promises municipal police force in early 2021' Surrey mayor promises municipal police force in early 2021
Surrey mayor promises municipal police force in early 2021 – Feb 27, 2020

The report cites Surrey’s five-year budget showing a $189 million cost for 2021 while the new force came online and the RCMP contract finished, followed by annual budgets of $199 million climbing to $209 million by 2024.

It also estimates about $45.2 million in one-time capital costs to set up the new department.

According to the report, the new SPD would seek to buy the Surrey RCMP’s existing equipment, including its fleet of vehicles.

READ MORE: 2021 start date for Surrey Police Department ‘a bit ambitious’ says transition committee chair

The report found the immediate priorities in moving forward are the hiring of a new Surrey police chief and police board.

The report notes that a pension transition agreement is in place which will address most concerns among RCMP officers who wish to work for the new SPD.

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It also found the need to rapidly establish a new Transition Recruiting Unit made up of experienced officers with recuriting backgrounds, supported by the City of Surrey’s human resources department.

READ MORE: ‘We’re not going away’: Group plans rally as Surrey council prepares to adopt divisive budget

Click to play video 'Staffing concerns for new Surrey police force' Staffing concerns for new Surrey police force
Staffing concerns for new Surrey police force – Mar 2, 2020

The report envisions the hiring of a number of fresh recruits without policing experience, allowing the force to get up to full strength more rapidly, but points to needed funding and support for the Justice Institute of B.C. in order for the proposal to work and to ensure sufficient training.

The report found that about 100 Surrey RCMP officers would need to stay in the city after the “go-live” date in order to complete active files and investigations, at a cost of $4.6 million, with that group of officers being cut by half every subsequent quarter.

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