Surrey’s top Mountie Brian Edwards is set to present before city council Monday a “framework for maintaining the RCMP as Police of Jurisdiction in Surrey.”
Council will consider a corporate report, of the same name, asking the politicians to endorse a proposed framework containing Surrey’s “priorities, goals and objectives for policing in 2023” and direct staff to present a “final plan” for maintaining the Surrey RCMP as the city’s police force for council’s endorsement at its Dec. 12 council meeting.
“This report provides a framework for the City to maintain the RCMP as the Police of Jurisdiction in Surrey,” the corporate report states. “This framework will guide the development of the final plan to maintain the RCMP as the Police of Jurisdiction in Surrey which will be presented to Council for endorsement on December 12, 2022, should Council endorse the recommendations of this report.
Monday’s corporate report – by Surrey’s manager of community services Terry Waterhouse, manager of finance Kam Grewal, and manager of corporate services Rob Costanzo – states that a “project team” will oversee development of the final plan which, if approved by council on Dec. 12, will be submitted to Public Safety Minister and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth for consideration by Dec. 15.
At council’s last meeting on Nov. 14 Mayor Brenda Locke’s Surrey Connect majority on a 5-4 vote directed city staff to prepare a plan toward that end.
The project team is comprised of Edwards, Waterhouse, consultants Tonia Enger and Dr. Peter German – who has held high positions including the RCMP’s national director general of financial crime and president of the International Centre for Criminal Law Reform – with senior members of the RCMP and city staff providing “strategic and administrative support.”
“The Plan, if endorsed, will provide a comprehensive update on the status of the transition to date and highlights the significant amount of work still required,” the report coming before council on Monday states. It also notes the contractual requirement for the RCMP to continue to be the city’s police of jurisdiction is “already in place.”
It notes that the number of Mounties assigned to the Surrey RCMP “has not been reduced and remains” at 843, with 58 of those assigned to Lower Mainland District Integrated Teams and “not located” within the Surrey RCMP detachment.
“As such, the Surrey Detachment strength is considered 785 Members, although 51 of these positions are not currently funded,” the corporate report states. It adds that “as of this date,” 168 Surrey Police Service officers are “providing policing services to Surrey residents” under the RCMP’s command.
While “some preliminary discussions” on legal agreements have been held, “substantive details have not been worked out, nor have agreements been drafted,” the corporate report notes. “Such agreements may require approval of all parties, and likely Cabinet endorsement at both the Federal and Provincial levels. Based on the experience of prior negotiations, it is reasonable to assume the negotiations of these legal agreements will take 6 – 9 months.”
Meantime, the budget and “practical implications of a holding pattern on deployment and demobilization while these legal agreements are prepared and signed off are significant and will require the City to continue to fund through most of 2023 a complement of non-deployed SPS police officers far in excess of the City’s ability to pay,” it continues.
The priorities, goals and objectives for policing in Surrey in 2023 include development of a staffing plan to provide employment, “where possible,” to civilian and sworn SPS officers who are integrated into the Surrey RCMP “to allow for continued and enhanced career development opportunities,” as well as develop and implement an Infrastructure Plan which will see the current information systems and equipment assets purchased on behalf of the SPS, repurposed by other entities within the City of Surrey.”
The objective for 2023 is to maintain a minimum service level of 734 RCMP officers “as soon as possible to ensure adequate and effective policing in 2023 and beyond” and to “develop and implement a plan for SPS to provide Assigned Officers to support” operation of the Municipal Police Unit” as the RCMP “staffs up to full funded strength consistent with an agreed staffing plan.”
And then there are the financial considerations. The city’s policing operations budget for 2023 will include funding for the RCMP contract, city police support services and SPS. The financial plan it adopted for 2022 – 2026 allocates a combined budget of $202.4 million for fiscal year 2023, for policing operations, with proposed budgets to be presented to council “likely in early in 2023.”
“To finalize the budget requirements for 2023,” the corporate report notes, Surrey “requires approval” from Farnworth of its intention to stick with the RCMP..
“This will allow staff to determine a proposed start date for the implementation of the plan. Collaborative work with the RCMP and the SPS will then take place to determine the cadence of RCMP ramp up and SPS ramp down and confirm corresponding budget allocations required.”
Surrey “envisions” a decision from Farnworth in January 2023 decision “and a ramp up of RCMP and ramp down of SPS beginning in March
Meanwhile, the Surrey Police Board’s next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 30. The agenda for that meeting will be made available on that day.