LETTERS: Surrey Municipal Police Force will destabilize public safety in the Lower Mainland

Editor:

In December 2018, the mayor and council initiated the two-year “opt out” provision contained within the Municipal Police Unit Agreement between the City of Surrey and the RCMP.

Although there has been no public consultation regarding the benefits of the proposed migration plan or its cost, our mayor unilaterally submitted a plan to the Solicitor General of B.C. as required under the Police Act.

While the migration plan will include a detailed analysis of the process and costs associated with the change, the Solicitor General will undoubtedly only deal with the process component of the plan and leave the thorny issue of the massive cost to our local politicians and the taxpayers of Surrey. Essentially, if the taxpayers of Surrey made a bad decision at the voting polls, too bad.

The mayor’s plan will provide for a minimum of 1,000 municipal officers which he believes will be fulfilled by 500 transitioning RCMP officers and 500 from other city police forces.

Based on a report “Police Resources in British Columbia, 2016” there were 11 municipal police departments in the province comprising 2,422 officers. As it is unlikely that a police officer will move from Nelson or Oak Bay to Surrey, they will primarily be recruited from the 2,000 municipal officers in the Lower Mainland.

The financial cost to the existing municipal police departments to recruit and train new officers, if they can find them, will be massive, adding significantly to already strained municipal budgets.

Although the taxpayers of other area municipalities may be able to absorb these costs, the short transition timeline of 12 months proposed by our mayor will initiate the movement of police officers to Surrey, leaving other municipalities scrambling to replace them and destabilizing public safety.

While the Solicitor General may not comment on the financial costs, he is responsible for ensuring public safety in B.C. Approval of the mayor’s plan is contingent not only on protecting the residents of Surrey, but cannot jeopardize public safety in other municipalities. There are no winners in the mayor’s plan, just losers, absorbing the financial costs and the risk of degraded public safety.

Al Ecclestone, Surrey

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