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Surrey Police Service inks 1st contract, making officers among the highest paid in Canada

Click to play video: 'Surrey Police Service reaches first contract with officers making them among the highest paid in country'
Surrey Police Service reaches first contract with officers making them among the highest paid in country
WATCH: Officers with the new Surrey Police Service have their first contract and it makes them among the highest paid in the country. With the costs involved, a city councilor who wanted to keep the RCMP is accusing the mayor of tying a "fiscal anchor" to Surrey residents. Catherine Urquhart has the story – Mar 4, 2022

Surrey’s new municipal police force has its first collective agreement, and its inaugural contract makes officers of the fledgling Surrey Police Service among the highest paid in the country.

Recruits will begin with a starting salary of $70,000, climbing to $89,000 after the first year. At three years, an SPS constable will be eligible for a salary of nearly $122,000.

Read more: First Surrey, B.C. police officers begin active duty, starting phased transition from RCMP

The contract, agreed to by the Surrey Police Board and Surrey Police Union this week, will be in force until 2024.

It also includes a “parity clause” that will see salaries increase by three per cent per year, or by whatever raise members of the Vancouver Police Department get — whichever is higher.

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By contrast, RCMP officers are hired on as constables at an annual salary of $63,000, climbing to $102,000 after three years.

Probationary constables with the Vancouver Police Department start at just under $78,000, while constables with the Toronto Police Service start at just over $73,000.

“I think this is a huge positive and historic day for Surrey Police Service,” department spokesperson Ian MacDonald said Friday.

Click to play video: 'First Surrey municipal police officers on the job'
First Surrey municipal police officers on the job

“I think both VPD and SPS are going to have very similar salaries, and I don’t think that’s accidental. We live and work in the same region in the Lower Mainland, and the policing challenges for both big cities is similar.”

The contract drew harsh criticism from Surrey Coun. Brenda Locke, who is a candidate for mayor in the upcoming municipal election and long-time opponent of the city’s policing transition.

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“It makes the Surrey Police Service one of the top three police services in the country,” Locke said.

“This is extraordinary, and it is going to tie a huge fiscal anchor around the Surrey taxpayer.”

Read more: Petition for referendum on Surrey’s police transition nets nearly 43,000 signatures

Locke said approval of the contract came through the police board, and that city council did not have the authority to review it ahead of time or vote on it.

She said an 18-month severance provision in the agreement would leave the city on the hook for $50 million.

“This is an extraordinarily expensive contract, and its actually shameful that an unelected board would impose this on the citizens of Surrey,” Locke said.

The deal comes as the SPS looks to recruit hundreds of additional officers, amid an extremely competitive field for experienced police in the province.

Click to play video: 'Surrey Police Force hiring limited by B.C. government'
Surrey Police Force hiring limited by B.C. government

The police service has already hired 179 officers, including 27 from the Vancouver Police Department (VPD), according to MacDonald.

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The VPD, meanwhile, is in the midst of its own recruiting drive. Spokesperson Const. Tania Visintin said the department wasn’t worried it would lose out in the recruiting race to its neighbour in Surrey.

“VPD does have a lot to offer that other agencies can’t — we have a lot of investigative sections, the mounted unit, emergency response team, crisis negotiators, community engagement officers,” she said.

“We have a lot of career opportunities, a lot of career advancements here at VPD, and we don’t think this will affect our ability to recruit.”

Read more: Province caps how many officers new Surrey Police Service can hire in 2022

Last year, the province capped how many officers the SPS could recruit in 2022 in what MacDonald described as the “175 to 200” range in a bid to head off potential staffing issues with other policing agencies in the province.

MacDonald said Friday there was no set date for the SPS to fully replace the RCMP in Surrey, adding that the department will need to be scaled up and the RCMP detachment scaled down before the province can sign off on the official change in jurisdiction.

“All of these things are kind of works in progress,” he said.

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“We’ll arrive at an actual date maybe in the coming months.”

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