Vancouver’s incoming mayor says the city could achieve his goal of hiring 100 new police officers by taking on members left jobless if Surrey axes its transition to a municipal force.
Speaking on Global News Morning BC, Ken Sim said he wouldn’t try to poach the officers, but should Surrey move ahead with mayor-elect Brenda Locke‘s plan to dismantle the Surrey Police Service and return to the RCMP, he’d be interested.
“There’s talk now of them not having their own police force — we may be able to hire people even faster,” Sim said.
“Now, we want to support our local partners. It’s not as if we’re going after these individuals, but there’s an opportunity where there may be a lot of police officers available — and that wasn’t actually factored into our original plan, so we’re actually feeling even more optimistic today than we did on Friday.”
Sim campaigned heavily on public safety, with the pledge to hire 100 new officers and 100 mental health nurses at the centre of his platform.
The future of policing in Surrey, meanwhile, remains unclear.
Scrapping the police transition was Locke’s key campaign pledge, and one she reiterated to Global News earlier this week.
“The RCMP are the police of jurisdiction today in Surrey. They will be moving forward,” she said.
The prospect of Surrey keeping the RCMP appeared to gain weight Monday, with comments from Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth.
“Mayor-elect Locke has indicated she wants to undo the transition, and Surrey has the ability to make that choice,” Farnworth said.
“The critical part of all this will be for Surrey to put together a transition plan that deals with all the components of un-transitioning.”
The Surrey Police Service, meanwhile, says getting rid of it will come with a cost of about $159.7 million, including sunk capital costs and more than $66 million in severance.
“What mayor-elect Locke is suggesting is she’s going to fire a bunch of people, and the taxpayers of Surrey are going to be on the hook,” SPS spokesperson Ian MacDonald said.
Locke has suggested that rather than the city paying out the officers’ 18-month severance, they could could continue to work for that period or take jobs elsewhere.
Regardless of where the new cops come from, Sim said he’s spoken to Vancouver Police Chief Adam Palmer, who was confident the VPD could onboard 100 new members within a year.
How the officers will be used is up to the VPD, he said.
– With files from Catherine Urquhart