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Huge public relations expenses for Surrey Police Service questioned

Click to play video: 'FOI reveals cost to taxpayers for Surrey police PR' FOI reveals cost to taxpayers for Surrey police PR
Global News filed a freedom of information request to find out the cost for public relations for Surrey Police. As Catherine Urquhart found out, the bills are already in the tens of thousands of dollars. – Mar 11, 2021

Results of a freedom of information request by Global News have revealed details about recent public relations expenses by the Surrey Police Service.

PR firm Navigator was paid $6,538 in December and $3,360 in January.

Contractor Sharlene Brooks was also paid $4,396 in December and  $20,475 in January for public relations services.

Click to play video: 'FOI reveals base salary of newly hired Surrey deputy chief' FOI reveals base salary of newly hired Surrey deputy chief
FOI reveals base salary of newly hired Surrey deputy chief – Mar 11, 2021

That puts the public relations costs for the Surrey Police Service at $34,769.89 for those two months.

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Coun. Brenda Locke said she was surprised by the totals.

“We’re talking a lot of money, $35,000 in two months, that’s extraordinary,” she said. “That’s an extraordinary amount of money for the residents of Surrey to pay.”

Read more: FOI reveals base salary for Surrey Police Department’s new deputy chief

In response to questions, Brooks told Global News:

“The contract with the communications firm was in place just prior to my arrival to the SPS. It was necessary to have communications support available for the SPS in the absence of staff in place. I was then contracted to provide communications services to manage the ‘day to day’ and establish the framework for the communications section for the SPS.

“There has been a period of transition time to allow me to gain organizational knowledge before the Surrey Police Service gave the required notice to the communications firm to conclude their contract services.”

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Surrey’s new top cop promises boots on the ground sometime in 2021 – Feb 22, 2021

Locke fears the bills are adding up.

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“We’re getting high-priced spin doctors to do work to convince people about [Surrey Mayor Doug] McCallum’s police force that they don’t really want,” she said.

Surrey Police Service says it now has a job posting for a permanent communications manager.

Earlier this week, Global News obtained a freedom of information request filed by a pro-RCMP community that revealed new Deputy Chief Jennifer Hyland’s base salary is $235,000 per year.

That salary could climb as high as $321,000 with benefits.

The National Police Federation, the union representing RCMP officers, said that’s about $50,000 more than an RCMP officer of equivalent rank, who would take home about $180,000 per year.

“When you go to a municipal service, really the taxpayer just wants to know are we going to be paying more and are we going to get value for that dollar?” National Police Federation president Brian Sauvé told Global News.

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Read more: Norm Lipinski announced as chief of new Surrey municipal police force

To determine senior officers’ salaries, the Surrey Police Board hired a third-party consultant to look at pay scales in police forces in 10 other Canadian cities.

The board did not make anyone available for an interview, but in a statement said salaries in the department would not be the lowest or the highest among comparable Canadian police forces.

— With files from Janet Brown, Simon Little and Ted Chernecki

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