Sparwood councillors have voted to write a letter of support in a campaign asking the provincial government to commission a feasibility study into flow-on effects from the City of Surrey withdrawing from using the RCMP.
The City of Surrey, in Metro Vancouver, is seeking to transition from using the RCMP to using its own municipal police department. Surrey is home to the largest detachment of RCMP officers in the province, at around 1,000 officers.
In a letter to municipalities around B.C., two Surrey councillors who oppose the transition – Brenda Locke and Jack Singh Hundial – argue that the knock-on effects of such a transition are unknown, not only for the City of Surrey and it’s proposed all-new municipal police force, but for municipalities around the province that continue to use the RCMP for their policing needs.
“There has not been a proper feasibility study or a cost benefit analysis that would support and establish the impact that the transition will have on Surrey, the region, or the province as a whole. The question remains if, and how, the transition will destabilize public safety from a variety of areas including recruitment, cost, and the overall integrated network,” they wrote.
They argued that officer recruitment and retention would be a problem province-wide should 1,000 officers in Surrey transfer to a new municipal force. They also argued that given the administrative costs of the RCMP are shared among all municipalities that use an RCMP detachment, the withdrawal of Surrey would negatively impact those that remain.
“The financial impact of the Surrey Police Transition has yet to be determined, but regardless, it will be an additional cost burden for every municipality,” they wrote.
Mayor David Wilks – who is a retired RCMP officer himself – said that it was important to know what impact Surrey withdrawing from using the RCMP would have on smaller communities – if any.
“The potential cost of policing could go up because Surrey has eliminated itself,” he said.
Currently, as Sparwood is home to fewer than 5,000 residents the cost of policing is relatively low, but Wilks said that should Sparwood exceed 5,000 residents, the cost of policing would increase significantly.
“It could be a potential problem down the road. I don’t want to get caught with our pants down,” he said.
Councillors voted unanimously to write a letter of support requesting a provincial feasibility study into the impact of Surrey withdrawing from using the RCMP.
The City of Surrey voted in November 2018 to kick start a municipal police force, with a goal to have the new force operational within two years. It is not yet operational, with the RCMP continuing to operate within the municipality.
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