Surrey’s mayor says new city force cops could be patrolling alongside the Surrey RCMP by mid 2020 as the city forges ahead with its epic policing transition.
“There’s going to be a period of time where we’re going to have both RCMP officers out there, and our own city police officers,” McCallum told the Now-Leader on Wednesday.
“There’s no way you can change over in one day,” he explained. “You can’t change 850 or 900 in a day.”
McCallum said in a recent recorded interview, “You’re gonna see probably officers out on our street probably in the middle of next year.”
The anticipated launch date of the city’s new force is expected to be April 1, 2021.
“We can’t just start by April 1, because we have to start before that,” McCallum told the Now-Leader, concerning when new city police officers will begin duty.
Councillor Jack Hundial, who served as a Surrey RCMP officer for 25 years before entering city politics, is skeptical.
“I think the mayor’s timeline is unrealistic and I think some of the goals in that police report are certainly not going to be able to be attained in time, but like I said, currently Mr. Oppal and the committee are reviewing issues such as HR,” Hundial said. “I look forward to seeing what they have to say.”
A typical Mountie will spend six months at depot in Regina. Followed by field training, it’s roughly a year before a rookie officer will hit the streets.
Asked if he thinks there’s enough time between now and the middle of 2020 to properly screen and train new police officers for the job, Hundial replied, “From the policing report, as I understood it, the standards are lower than the RCMP, first of all.”
At Surrey council’s inaugural meeting on Nov. 5th, 2018 it served notice to the provincial and federal governments it is ending its contract with the RCMP – which has policed these parts since May 1, 1951 – to set up its own force. The city’s 189-page proposed transition plan, revealed in June 2019, states the new force will “go live” on April 1, 2021 at an operating cost of $192.5 million for that year.
The plan includes five “milestones” that address staffing needs. They indicate the “foundations and recruiting process” would be 19 to 21 months prior to the transition date, with training, policies and equipment to be dealt with 12 to 18 months prior, recruiting and training “progress” seven to 11 months prior to the transition date, and management and emergency planning two to six months prior.
The report sets a goal of “being ready to train hundreds of officers in the month prior to the transition date.”
It also states that “it is expected that approximately 100 Surrey RCMP investigators will need to remain embedded in Surrey PD to finish investigations that began prior to the transition date.”
Wally Oppal, a former B.C. attorney general, is heading the provincial team tasked with overseeing the transition from the Surrey RCMP to a new city force after the NDP government gave the city approval to establish its own police force in August.
Oppal re-affirmed in an interview with the Now-Leader, published Oct. 1, 2019 that the new police force is set to launch in the spring of 2021.
“Everybody agreed on that,” Oppal said. “So we’re aiming for that and I see no reason why we can’t accomplish that.”
– With file by Amy Reid