Surrey is more than doubling the number of RCMP officers it was planning to hire this year, a move made possible by savings within the federal force.
Surrey’s police committee proposed Monday that the city increase the number of planned officers by 18, adding to the dozen already included in the 2014 budget.
That brings to 30 the number of Mounties that will be added to the detachment, bringing the force up to 703 members this year.
The hiring has been made possible thanks to the RCMP finding cost efficiencies in the officers’ health plan, through fleet changes and with improved division administration.
Surrey RCMP Chief Supt. Bill Fordy told the city’s police committee Monday the cost of the officers will be met entirely through these internal savings.
“We have established efficiencies in our service delivery model, our ability to respond to calls at a local level, but at the national level, we’re noticing differences across the board on a broader spectrum,” Fordy told the committee.
Mayor Dianne Watts said it’s the kind of policing numbers Surrey has been wanting for some time.
The Leader has learned that Fordy asked for 27 officers during budget discussions last year, but was given only 12.
If overtime is a measure of workload, Surrey RCMP are in need of more officers.
The Mounties exceeded their annual $4-million overtime budget by another $2.7 million.
Fordy confirmed those figures on Monday and said 2013 was a particularly busy year.
Surrey experienced 25 homicides last year, a record number. Fordy said while the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team takes custody of those files, Surrey Mounties assist in all of those investigations.
“We know that the first 72 hours (after a homicide) are crucial,” Fordy told The Leader. “What we try to do in major case management is front load those investigations (with personnel).”
Doing that often means calling officers in for overtime work.
In addition to the homicides, Surrey RCMP has had numerous large files so far this year.
“We had three particular undertakings this year, which affected the property crime rates,” Fordy said.
He added there’s no question the addition of more officers will allow the force to reduce the overtime costs.
The new Mounties are expected to arrive this fall.