In 2018, the City of Surrey decided to change how it wants policing services to be delivered and exercised its authority under the BC Police Act to have its own municipal police service. The Province of BC approved this change and appointed a police board in 2020. Policing services in Surrey are now transitioning from the RCMP to the Surrey Police Service (SPS), which was created as an independent police service by the Surrey Police Board in 2020.
At this time, SPS is not the police of jurisdiction for Surrey; policing services will continue to be provided by the RCMP until SPS assumes responsibility for policing.
Road to Policing Transition – Knowing the Facts
Changing a city’s policing model is a big deal. Public safety is something that residents care deeply about, and a change of this magnitude can be unsettling for some. It is understandable that people will have differing opinions about Surrey’s move to a municipal police service. However, it is important to know that SPS is approved to move forward. Below are some of the key facts to know about Surrey’s policing transition.
- The Province of BC established the Surrey Police Board in 2020.
- Surrey Police Service was established by the Surrey Police Board.
- Surrey Police Union has been established and certified to represent SPS police officers.
- CUPE 402 represents SPS civilian employees.
- Over 100 police officers and civilian employees have been hired, with more coming on board weekly.
- The first group of 50 SPS officers will be operationally deployed commencing on or before November 30, 2021 as the phased transition plan begins to roll out.
- Referendum requests can be initiated by individuals/groups or led by the province/federal government. Regardless of the outcome of the initiative petition on Surrey policing, the Province of BC holds the authority to call a referendum. Learn more: Understanding the Initiative Petition Process; Recall and Initiative Act; Referendum Act
- Under the Police Act, Mayor and Council have limited authority to make changes to policing services.
- The three levels of government, SPS and the RCMP continue to work together through the Surrey Policing Transition Trilateral Committee to develop and implement this phased, integrated policing transition.
Benefits of Municipal Policing
The move to a local police service that answers directly to its citizens is an investment into the future of Surrey. Here are some of the benefits that Surrey residents and business owners will realize through this investment:
Planning and Decision Making
The federal, provincial and municipal governments established the Surrey Policing Transition Trilateral Committee (SPTTC) in 2020. The SPTTC is tasked with guiding and supporting the development, negotiation and implementation of a phased transition of policing services in Surrey.
The SPTTC is made up of senior representatives from the three levels of government: Assistant Deputy Ministers from the Government of Canada and the Province of BC, and the City Manager and General Manager, Policing Transition, from the City of Surrey. Senior leaders of the RCMP and SPS also participate in an “ex officio” capacity. The SPTTC holds the authority to determine how the integrated transition is happening.
The SPTTC is supported by a Working Group and obtains subject matter expertise to plan and implement transition activities. There are dozens of experts with in-depth, Surrey-specific knowledge and experience of policing who are working collaboratively to enable the transition.
Operational Deployment Timing
The SPTTC partners have agreed to a phased, integrated transition process, with the first group of 50 SPS officers assuming operational policing duties beginning on, or before, November 30, 2021. These officers will be assigned to positions within the RCMP Municipal Police Unit in Surrey (i.e. Surrey RCMP). The RCMP will remain the police agency of jurisdiction during this point of the policing transition.
The RCMP and SPS are building a collaborative human resources strategy to ensure the coordination and deployment of SPS officers alongside Surrey RCMP officers. As additional details are confirmed, more information will be shared for public awareness.
Costs associated with building the SPS are available to the public through reports to the Surrey Police Board at its monthly meetings.
The cost of the infrastructure of the transition will be approximately $64M, phased over five years. This will cover start-up expenses, including equipment and information technology infrastructure. The cost of running SPS on an annual basis is currently projected at $206M by 2025 and is within the City’s approved five-year financial plans. Approximately 80-90% of police costs relate to salaries, given the 24/7 operational requirements.
The City currently pays 90% of the cost for assets, including vehicles and equipment acquired by RCMP, for policing in Surrey. Under the terms of the Municipal Police Unit Agreement, the City can have those assets transferred from the Government of Canada to the City as part of the policing transition. This process is underway through the SPTTC. SPS officers will receive new uniforms, including upgrades to body armour.
The City owns or leases all facilities used by the Surrey RCMP and SPS. SPS will operate out of existing facilities during and after the transition.
The City currently pays for training of RCMP members (at RCMP Depot in Regina) through the RCMP contract budget. Future SPS recruits will pay the costs of their training at Justice Institute of BC, but they will receive a salary while they attend training.
The unionization of the RCMP and its new collective agreement will increase costs for all RCMP-policed municipalities, closing the gap in operating costs between the RCMP and municipal police.
The SPS is an investment in the future of our rapidly developing city. Public safety is an area where you want the best service, not the least expensive.