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Details on transition cost sought at inaugural Surrey police board meeting

Click to play video: 'Surrey’s new police board holds first meeting' Surrey’s new police board holds first meeting
The plan to create a municipal police force for Surrey remains controversial, but the city's mayor is moving ahead, and during a police board meeting, the public learned more about how that force is starting to take shape. Ted Chernecki reports – Aug 6, 2020

The Surrey police board held its inaugural meeting Thursday, signalling a major step in the mayor’s election promise to transition the city away from the RCMP and bring in a municipal force.

“Today is an incredible, special day. It has been a long time coming for the City of Surrey,” Mayor Doug McCallum said at the beginning of the virtual meeting.

Click to play video: 'Surrey police board holds inaugural public meeting virtually' Surrey police board holds inaugural public meeting virtually
Surrey police board holds inaugural public meeting virtually – Aug 6, 2020

Harley Chappell, board member and Semiahmoo First Nation Chief, asked the first question, about understanding the cost of the transition.

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“So I just wonder if we could get a one-pager, something simple that gives us a comparison to what a municipal cost would cost, what an RCMP fee is at present and then the transition,” he said.

“That’s a question our board definitely has and constituents in the municipality as well.”

It was previously revealed a new municipal police force in Surrey would cost 10.9 per cent more than the current RCMP force, according to the Surrey police transition plan that was finally made available to the public last June.

The plan was released after building public pressure for accountability into the proposed change.

Read more: B.C. city in rare position to redefine policing amid calls for defunding

Terry Waterhouse, the general manager of the policing transition, told Chappell that the information is not a secret and it’s available in the five-year financial plan that is publicly available.

McCallum said work will begin in the coming weeks to “recruit the top police leaders in the country.”

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.

On Thursday, the board heard that 80 city staff are working on the transition, with 11 full-time.

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