Jack & Brenda Discuss the Surrey Police Transition

 In Podcasts
September 01, 2020

The transcript is below

00:47 – Jack Hundial’s policing experience

03:00 – Do RCMP Officers stay in Surrey?

04:25 – Urban versus rural policing

05:00 – All police departments integrate now

06:44 – Policing and the border crossings

08:08 – The advantage of having RCMP E division in Surrey

11:33 – Shared police services, dog squads, helicopter ect.

13:15 – A Surrey Police Force was not the main issue in the election

15:38 – The Bob Cheema factor

17:30 – Surrey RCMP Members choose to live in Surrey

20:30 – The community has to support the police force or it’s not going to work

23:00 – The Keep the RCMP in Surrey movement

25:56 – The questionable relationship between the SPD and the Vancouver Police

27:35 – Other cities have done proper feasibility studies and stayed with the RCMP

28:45 – Best practices CAR 67 and Sophie’s Place

29:36 – Surrey’s homeless record compared to Vancouver

35:17 – The murky finances around the SPD transition

38:40 – the additional costs associated with risks and accidents

40:38 – The hiring & training challenges faced by the fast-tracked SPD transition

44:14 – The challenges that the Justice Institute is experiencing

50:21 – Councillor Doug Elford strangely changed his mind

54:30 – Residents have no trust in the SPD transition process

Transcript

NOTE: this is our first attempt at this

Transcript

Brenda : [00:00:02] Hi, everyone, Brenda Locke, here – I am with my colleague Jack Hundial, we’re both with Surrey Connect and today is August 24th. I want to thank you for listening today, but you can follow us on Facebook and on Twitter and on our Web site. Welcome, Jack.

 

Jack: [00:00:21] Hey, Brenda, how’s it going?

 

Brenda : [00:00:22] Not too bad. It’s a beautiful day today. Today is my turn to interview you. And I thought, I know it’s a little different, but I thought it was important that we really got out of you some of the information around policing, policing in Surrey and really talk about the transition only today.

 

Jack: [00:00:46] Ok.

 

Brenda : [00:00:47] So you are the one and the only Councillor who has policing experience out of all of us. I think its important that you share some of your experience, your expertise and knowledge. But as we all know, this has been a process that has been very much a folly.

 

Its been a tightly held and secretly held process in the office of the mayor. And I think residents are starting to come alive to that. Certainly, I know that the residents know you had a 25-year career with the RCMP and you’re now retired. Can you give me a little bit of a background of your sort of your life as an officer in British Columbia?

 

Jack: [00:01:45] Yeah, so, I mean, I was born and raised in Terrace, BC and I joined the RCMP at age 21. My posting was here in Surrey in 1992, I started off here and did a variety of work, general duty traffic, plainclothes stuff, and then got a chance to work on some of the some of the larger files that were happening around that time.

 

Then did five years in Aboriginal policing. The opportunity came up to go back to Surrey. I did that a second time and then I left Surrey and seconded over to police services for about three years and then I came back to Surrey a third time.

The myth I hear all the time is that police officers in Surrey, you know, once they come here, they leave there for other parts of the country. I can tell you, I worked with a lot of members that continue to keep in touch. A lot of members that were born and raised here in the lower mainland, in Surrey, that work here in Surrey.

 

And in fact, one of the myths that gets pumped around all the time is, you know, where do RCMP members who work in Surrey live? There is an internal survey that was done, I think, last year, about a year and a half ago that said about 38 percent of the RCMP officers working in Surrey actually live in Surrey. And out of that, the remainder is 60 to 80 percent live in the neighbouring jurisdiction.

 

Whether we’re White Rock, Delta West New, Langley. But, you know, a lot of them do work here – compared to what Vancouver has at the time. I think Vancouver is only 18 percent of the officers that work in Vancouver actually live in Vancouver. So let’s get the facts straight on that.

 

Brenda : [00:03:36] So, you know, and I’ve even talked to some officers that actually went to high school here in Surrey. You know where that the myth comes from? I have no idea. But I guess you make it up as you go along sometimes if you if you believe it – If you want to believe it.

 

One of the things I wanted to ask you about was – you’ve been a small-town police officer and you’ve been in a large, large city like Surrey what is the difference? What is the dynamic? Because one of the other things that the Mayor and his back to the future team keeps talking about is the fact that the RCMP don’t know how to do urban policing.

 

Jack: [00:04:25] Well, the whole thing ….  OK, let’s get a couple of things straight here. Policing is changing throughout the world right now. We know that we know what happened down in the states recently has had a ripple effect all across the world when it comes to law enforcement. And what we’re seeing now is really a change, I think, in law enforcement. Also, perceptions around law enforcement as well. I can tell you, technology across the country has been first and foremost for the RCMP.

 

You know, you’ve got people that are using the same data systems. Across the country, so you talked this high level of integration right across the country. You also have this sort of myth of, you know, it’s urban policing. So the RCMP is actually the regional police force across the of the area of the region. And that’s why you have the integrated units all throughout, you know, the province. You have them down here in the Lower Mainland. You have them, you know, Prince George on the island.

 

And you can, again, see them in all the large centres in the province. There are integrated units made up from members, from all different types of police services, not just RCMP. To think that anything is going to be different in the future, …. its not when it comes to the integrated units that we talked about, the priorities there are already set out.

 

And I know the mayor often says is that, you know, direction comes from Ottawa? Well, it actually does. Your policing prior priorities in the province of British Columbia come from the Solicitor General. That’s the Sol Gen that puts out the priorities for the province and every police force to follow and to report back on how those priorities are being managed. So that’s true.

 

Whether you’re going to a municipal police force or whether you’re in you’re in the RCMP police force –  and let’s not forget, there’s other police agencies that are at work here as well.

 

Brenda : [00:06:22] You have the Skytrain. The Metro. The TransLink police.

 

Jack: [00:06:28] And you have transit running through here. You have seen their police here. Don’t forget, you also get RCMP working here. So, you have a lot of different jurisdictions of policing sort of interwoven into the fabric of what it currently is Surrey RCMP detachment.

 

Brenda : [00:06:44] Well, so we are going a bit of script and that’s great. But can you tell me so with the two largest border crossings in western Canada, this is Douglas and Peace Arch. Can you tell me how does that integrate into policing? Because that must be something to do with the division. But I’m not clear how that follows.

 

Jack: [00:07:12] So the border crossings, I mean, there are staffed and enforced with first with CBSA. So Canadian Border Services Agency, CBS is there. But when there is a call that requires a police officer to attend, whether it be something as impaired driving or maybe some sort of seizure of some different type, whether it be drugs or something else, it’s the RCMP that attend that. Now, when you talk about the border security part of it, as far as, you know, illegal transactions outside of the border crossings, well, that’s managed through integrated units such as, you know, the border services type of unit, which, you know, not only looks at the air, but also the line crossing, in some cases, even the border crossings.

 

Brenda : [00:08:08] So you raised the issue of E division. And, you know, I had a very I had a small role to play in the E division coming to Surrey. That was a big role. Yeah, it was pretty, pretty proud of that. I’m pretty glad that we were able to bring the E division to Surrey. It was in Vancouver before. And I know I had to fight and argue with the then Solicitor General who wanted it to be in Langley. But it’s here. But I think there is some confusion about the Surrey detachment as compared to E division.

 

Jack: [00:08:50] Surrey Detachment and this is a real benefit for Surrey residents actually is not only do you have the largest RCMP detachment, but you have the headquarters for the region within your city that’s integrated with the national police force. When you look at that and you look how far that reaches that even beyond our borders.

 

If you look at the from the international perspective is that every almost every embassy, across the world has a RCMP liaison officer in it. And I remember on more than one occasion we’re having investigation here in Surrey. It allowed quick access to those liaison offices in other parts of the world, which is definitely a definite bonus that, you know, the residents don’t always see.

 

Brenda : [00:09:44] So you kind of lead it a little bit. But can you just talk a little bit about specialized teams? And I’m thinking about how it works with IHIT. Great, is that separate and apart from Surrey detachment?

 

Jack: [00:10:07 ]  Well, this is where people who are challenged with numbers often fumble when we talk, we’re talking about RCMP members out on the road here.

 

But we’re also talking about those members that are part of these recorded units. This is something that’s right across the board with every police agency, not just with RCMP. So, you’ll have integrated units that have members from VPD, either from Delta, from New West, you know, Abbotsford. And the advantage to that is that you have that tight integration.

 

And now if we’re going to open up another municipal standalone police agency, so now you have another unit to integrate into that. And that takes time. And, you know, I’m sure there’ll be some investigations that may be put at risk because of that. But one thing with integration is that it’s subsidized through the provincial government.

 

So, when you look at units like, for instance, your emergency response team, so the emergency response team is based in the regional location and anyone can access and use it. Now, what Surrey has always been able to take advantage of is the fact they’re the largest consumer of that, but pay a standardized price for it. So, Surrey, residents are definitely going to see a significant impact into those integrated units if they get out of that integration model. That’s the same for dogs, includes IDENT as well.

 

 

Brenda : [00:11:33] Yeah, that’s what I was thinking, when you’re when we’re talking about the shared services, we get to take advantage of that because we’re in Surrey and they’re here and on the ground. And what about the helicopter? I know people. ask the helicopter part of that?

 

Jack: [00:11:52] The helicopter as well and we don’t know what’s going to happen with that yet because those conversations have not happened yet. So once again, you know, the RCMP has one of the largest fleets across the country, which I’m sure a lot of people didn’t know because there’s a fixed-wing and of course the rotary-wing vehicles. So, you know, sometimes you do need access to those resources as well. And with the RCMP you have that.

 

Brenda : [00:12:21] So I want to I want to go way back. I want to take us back pretty much to the election. And one of the things that the mayor and his four Councillors and some others seem to be on board with him keep saying is you run on this.

 

Jack: [00:12:43] It wasn’t Brenda.

 

Brenda : [00:12:44] No, it certainly wasn’t. And we need to we need to make that crystal clear. When you and I were our own team and then we joined with the Mayor’s team, we met with then Doug McCallum and he said, you know, let’s get together. And he had the three issues that we were going to run on.

 

Jack: [00:13:10] Yeah. And we were pretty clear when it came to the policing issue.

 

Brenda : [00:13:14] It was a review. We understood that. I think that one of the things, as I recall it, it amped up a little bit with the mayor talking more about changing, changing out the police. And I remember about, what, 10 days, two weeks after the writ dropped and the Campaign Manager calls us all together, probably one of the only times I really remember is having a meeting together, brought everybody in and said, drop this.

 

Jack: [00:13:47] Stop talking about transitioning from the RCMP and saying get rid of the RCMP.

 

Brenda : [00:13:51] Yeah, you’re right. This is not resonating with the public. We knew then. And while it may have been on some of our campaign documents, we sure we’re not talking about it in our campaign messaging and our meetings anywhere. Neither was the mayor, by the way.

 

Jack: [00:14:08] So, yeah, that’s the top issue was a switch from LRT to Skytrain. That was at about 80 percent or so. And then we had the smart development, which was running at about fifty percent. And then the policing issue was 10 percent and dropping.

 

Brenda : [00:14:28] Falling like a rock. We also talked about and I remember talking to this very specifically with the with then mayor, then Doug McCallum and talking about transparency, accountability and giving citizens their voice. And of course, boy, that has been an epic fail. And I feel sad that we have gotten to this place.

 

Jack: [00:14:54] But, yeah, when we first started running, it’s very clear if you go back and look at it, that we talked about having transparency in government.

 

Brenda : [00:15:03] So then the election happens. Fast forward Mayor-elect, unbeknownst to us. Yeah. Was having meetings with the Solicitor General before we were even sworn in. And with his friend, Bob Cheema.

 

Jack: [00:15:21] That’s right.

 

Brenda : [00:15:22] And that’s not news. That’s a fact. That’s a fact. That’s on the minister’s official calendar. I checked it actually yesterday. And it is still on the Solicitor General’s calendar.

 

Jack: [00:15:38] So I know it’s there because Mr. Cheema proceeded to, uh, to sue me for bringing it up during council chambers. And yeah, that’s still coming up for the court.

 

Brenda : [00:15:52] And I think that, you know, then we get to the November 5th swearing-in day and we had literally hours where we knew that this motion was coming forward. Yeah, extraordinarily unorthodox to do that, by the way. But the mayor decided to do that and without a corporate report. And so we had a conversation prior to Jack and you spoke to it, so.

 

Jack: [00:16:27] So at the last previous council had put forth a motion to actually conduct a feasibility study. And I think that was Councillor Gill at the time put forth saying, you know, we’re going to have a feasibility study on a transition, you know, away from the RCMP.

 

So, what does that look like? Well, that was never brought up during that meeting. And I stated very clearly before I even supported this, that this has to provide, you know, a tangible benefit to the residents of Surrey when it comes to safety. But, it also has to be, you know, financially responsible for the residents as well. But a lot of people seem to have sort of missed those points in this, including the mayor and his team.

 

Brenda : [00:17:08] Yeah. So, I’m just going to bring it back to something we kind of touched on. But, you know, you’re you still have lots of friends in the RCMP. And, yeah, I’ve had the opportunity and the privilege of meeting lots of officers as well. I mean, one of the other myths that’s out there where we’re going to be hitting on a lot of myths that are created here.

 

Brenda : [00:17:30] But one of the other myths was that the RCMP officers in Surrey don’t want to be posted to Surrey. They get moved around because they don’t like Surrey, that’s not been anything that I’ve heard from them. Mayor makes it sound like they’re Surrey a bunch of gypsies and they’re going all over.

 

Jack: [00:17:52] Well, first of all, I don’t know who it is that the mayor talks to in the RCMP because I don’t think it’s the members or the vast majority of people that work here in Surrey in the attachment. And if he does, I’d like to certainly know who those individuals are.

 

They can self identify that they’re giving the mayor this advice. But the vast majority of the RCMP members and it’s been proven you know, with a recent survey that’s come out as well, are not interested in transitioning to a city police force and are very happy with their chosen career paths.

 

And, you know, and the opportunity for them is there for them to advance in their careers with the RCMP if they choose to. And let’s face it, you know, if you’re an RCMP member, you have a choice to transition across to another police force at any time. You want members that retire from police forces, sometimes they go to units such as transit police or younger members because of maybe relocation with family or spouse or maybe there’s even in some cases medical conditions where they need to move to a place that they can support their family.

 

So, your members that are RCMP, remember that you go to Vancouver or to Abbotsford, but it’s all reciprocated. It’s one of those things where it’s like, you know, the patch on the arm really does not change the inner core, what a police officer is.

 

Brenda : [00:19:12] So, you know, I think that there’s another piece that we talk about and that is about diversity inside of the police force. And I know, in fact, I just called had an incident and in my neighbourhood at my house specifically yesterday, and it wasn’t an Asian fellow and Asian officer that came to see to see my issue. But I can tell you that it is very important from my perspective, the languages spoken, the diversity and the Surrey RCMP and you would know that better than I.

 

Jack: [00:19:51] Yeah. This detachment serves in multiple languages. Looking at the City of Surrey, has at last count, over 108 different languages spoken here. And that’s just the language alone. You talk about the cultural diversity. I mean, I’ve worked with members that, you know, guys that have come all the way from other parts of the world just to just to police in the RCMP. So, you have a vast, vast, you know, demographic to draw from. And it’s not just from different culture. It’s also the gender equality as well. And the RCMP is one of the leading organizations that does promote support diversity.

 

Brenda : [00:20:29] So I want to just get into policing itself, like what you do as an officer every day. And I’ve done some research on this and in Canada and actually in most civil countries, policing is done with the consent of the people. And that is the theory that Sir Robert Peel, who was the prime minister in the UK in 90. In 1829. Yeah. And that theory has stood the test of time. Most countries, most cities in the G20 use that framework, that framework, that philosophy to this day. And can you just speak to that and how that impacts you? Has an officer working.

 

Jack: [00:21:14] Yeah, so it’s often said in policing. And this goes back to some of the early writings for, you know, Sir Robert Peel that, you know, the public are the police and the police are the public. And essentially that means that, you know, without the consent of the citizenry, of whichever area and you’re policing, you will not be able to you properly police and support that community. So, what eventually means that unless you have the community support to support your police, it’s not going to work.

 

A very glaring example of that right now is what we’ve seen some of the counties and smaller cities in the United States where you have really the citizens in probably an almost open revolt against their police. So that’s something we never want to see here. But my fear is that the longer this drags on and it goes, you know, towards the path of transition is you’re not going to have the community buy-in.

 

The last thing you want to do is put, you know, that policing service in jeopardy. That’s not able to adequately support its public in times of need and certainly put the citizens at risk as well if there’s no buying from them for that policing.

 

Brenda : [00:22:34] So let’s put it really specifically in the context of Surrey, because I totally buy into that. And I am very fearful that just knowing what the polling is, I mean, we’re rarely seeing what we’ve seen many polls, even the city’s own poll.

 

Jack: [00:22:49] Yes, none of the polls, the poll that we had to go through and get an FOI request because the city wouldn’t release its own data to its elected officials.

 

Brenda : [00:22:59] Yeah, unbelievable. But it started based on misinformation that the mayor put out in the press release. And it was pretty obvious that that was not accurate.

 

We had to FOI it to make sure we could tell the public the truth. But we’ve seen every poll so far as being 80 percent and more that want to keep the RCMP in Surrey. So. if going back to Sir Robert Peel’s theory, if we carry on with this police force that nobody wants. How are you ever going to police with consent? It’s not in my mind. I can’t see it happening. We’ve seen, you know, the keep the RCMP and Surrey folks have done an amazing job of raising the issue. We’ve seen their campaign signs.

 

Jack: [00:23:57] I mean, any to for close to 5000,

 

Brenda : [00:24:00] Any political organization would be thrilled to death to get that many campaign signs out there, that’s for sure.

 

Jack: [00:24:05] And a petition of 50,000, which I think is probably over 50,000 now.

 

Brenda : [00:24:09] So how then will this police force, how will this chief, if they ever hire him or her, how will this ever be able to be an effective police force for this?

 

Jack: [00:24:26] Well, they’re going to have to spend a lot of money on marketing, first of all you’re going to waste a ton of money and trying to convince people this is the right thing. OK, now you’ve got another election happening in about two years. And this will be a colossal waste of money because I guarantee this will be one of the next election issues.

 

When it becomes election issue, it’s going to be very simple. Look, do you want to invest the money in and building up the RCMP or do you want to pay more money for less officers and a model which no one wants here? So, I think the answer is going to be pretty clear when people come out and vote for that.

 

Brenda : [00:25:05] But I think about the police department we going to have – if I was an officer, would you not be fearful of new people walking in?

 

Jack: [00:25:12] I’ve talked to guys that have these conversations with not just serious RCMP members, but members outside of Surrey even. And they’re like, are you nuts? I’m not going to leave what I have already here for a job. I mean, most likely only have for two years position. Yeah, temporary position.

 

And the other fear factor, too, is with such a close integration or involvement or meddling, I want to call it with like Vancouver police into this process is unless I’m part of that good old boy’s club from another organization, is there going to be an opportunity to advance here and for my career advancement? And you know what the reality is? Not much.

 

Brenda : [00:25:56] Well, that’s a great leap up to this question. It’s a statement and a question. I mean, one of the things that you and I both know from the very beginning of this process, the secret deal was between the City of Vancouver and the VPD and the mayor and I guess his colleagues.

 

You have this report done by VPD that is there’s so much to critique in there that even Wally Opal in his own review of it said there was lots of work to do, but there’s a couple of big questions. I mean, for me, why did Mayor Stewart and his council even get themselves into this mess?

 

It’s very unorthodox that a city would try and instruct another city how to develop their internal policies. So, I find that strange. And I also fail to understand why they would want to participate in our business because their taxpayers are paying the bill, – their taxpayers. A city of Vancouver’s taxpayers paid to have all of those finance people, all of those VPD members, everybody that was involved in this process. If there’s something that just felt very bad about the process, and I think that’s a concern.

 

Jack: [00:27:35] But while most other cities that look at this, if not all the ones I know, whether we Richmond, Red Deer, they actually go out and get a proper feasibility study done. And what’s come back to those feasibility studies every single time has been you can do it, but there is a financial cost to pay and there’s going to be a lag time before you get an organization running to the efficiency of what you currently have.

 

The public risk in that far outweighs it. And plus, it’s the taxpayers that are paying for this at the end of the day. And people are concerned, especially now in today’s reality, in a pandemic world, that the people don’t want to be paying for it because the uncertainty in the economy is just too great.

 

So why would they do that? I don’t know. The answer is I don’t know. It just smells really, really fishy to me. And I’ve yet to hear an answer from anyone, whether it’s the mayor or those on his team, to say, why is this a good move for Surrey and Surrey residents?

 

Brenda : [00:28:37] We don’t know the why, but we’ve been critical about that report on a number of fronts. I mean, certainly, I’ve done a couple of.

 

Jack: [00:28:45] Oh, yeah,

 

Brenda : [00:28:45] Releases on Sophie’s Place on Car 67, which is part of the domestic abuse and mental health

 

Jack: [00:28:54] And the police training. Brenda, let’s not forget about that.

 

Brenda : [00:28:56] Right.

 

Jack: [00:28:57] You know, so you want to bring in, you know, a couple hundred police officers right now. The Justice Institute is closed and I think they can come back in some sort of probably modified training program.

 

But look, they’ve got existing police agencies to service. So now you’re going to cause this entire regional disruption when it comes to not just training, but also to resourcing in the midst. A couple of them are under contract talks right now as well. So, are they going to use this as leveraging in contract negotiations? As we saw Vancouver come out and say, look, you know, we’re going lose up to two hundred police officers to Surrey if we don’t pay them more.

 

Brenda : [00:29:36] So let’s just talk about best practices, because I know, you know, there’s some kind of notion that this mayor believes that this new police department will be better. I mean, I certainly can’t understand where he gets his information from. I mean, I’ve had the privilege of sitting pre-COVID, of course, sitting with the police mental health outreach team in Surrey and seen the work that they do. And I have to tell you, it’s almost touching to watch, you know, this very integrated group we’re talking the RCMP, City bylaws, service providers.

 

So, the agencies in Agencies, Fraser Health and others get together, B.C. housing, and they talk about individuals by name. Did you see Fred yesterday? And he wasn’t doing well. So, we need to look for him. I’ll look for him. They are amazing at that. And that’s the RCMP in Surrey and all of all of the people on the team getting together. And that, to me, is best practices.

 

Jack: [00:29:36] I want to raise one point, though, on this. If people think that and I’ve worked on 135A Street when it was a mess, when, you know, you had the open homeless camps, the open drug activity going on there, and it took a lot of work and effort from everyone to clean it up.

 

You know what? It was all done without a court injunction. But when I compare that to, say, Downtown Eastside and I look at, you know, they’ve had decades of neglect there and certainly those issues are huge, and you’re not going get them solved right way, I think one term of government, but really, I mean, when we look at the policing that goes on there to compare to what we have here, you know, I’d rather you pick here any day of the week.

 

Brenda : [00:31:29] You know what? When it comes to court injunctions, you’re right on because Maple Ridge and Abbotsford and Nanaimo and you go through the list and Vancouver many times have had a court injunction to deal with those issues. I was actually volunteering with Surrey Urban Mission at the time. And so I was the one pretty much being the doorman, letting people come in. And we were, you know, having people come in. 180 people got moved off of 135A in three days. And it was all done with a heart, with civility and with the reason that they wanted to come to see everybody do well and succeed. And, you know, they did and they were successful.

 

And sure, it was done that again because we recently had another camp down, King George, same thing that everybody got together. The police mental health outreach team did the same good work there. So, you know, talk about best practice. And that’s not the only one. I mean, I’m sure you know lots of others. The Lavender Project, which is for young women who.

 

Jack: [00:32:44] You know, the strides in mental health, you know, programs that they have, it’s an attachment. Plus, you know, even the domestic violence Surrey, one of the first ones to come up with a domestic violence unit. So, and you look at the support, how closely it is tied in with that. Now, I want to go back to one thing. You talked about urban policing a little bit earlier.

 

And one of the differences for people that don’t have that opinion travelling to Vancouver often is, is when you look at the policing model for Vancouver, it’s different. If you look at their downtown core, even a lot of theirs is high rise. So when you say, look, we have X amount of police officers per square kilometre, what you’re not always considering is, is the volume of people living in those high rises because it does have an impact. It’s pretty easy to respond to a call from building to building. I think that would be to travel with one-part Surrey to the other.

 

I know the Mayor kicks this around all the time. Urban policing, urban policing. Well, pretty much every part of Canada now is fairly urban. And, you know, unless you’re riding around in horses for enforcement, which maybe that’s the but the notion is but, you know, we’re pretty, fairly modern and really urban in most policing, whether it’s even a small town or whether it’s even in a large or medium-sized town, because the leaps and bounds in technology have allowed for that.

 

Brenda : [00:34:15] You know, at the end of the day and in talking to people like Ramona Kaptyn from CARP (Canadian Association of Retired People), it’s all about public safety and public security and how people feel about where they live.

 

And I can tell you from everybody that I’ve talked to and literally, you know as well as I do, we’ve had thousands of communications, whether they’re emails or letters or, you know, Facebook posts or whatever. And people are deathly afraid of this transition, not only because of the transition. There are really two key challenges. And I think that’s one of them is the cost part.

 

Jack: [00:35:00] Let’s talk about that.

 

Brenda : [00:35:03] Yeah.

 

Jack: [00:35:04] So even to this day, two years into our term with a police board that’s approved, one of the first questions one of the board members asked is what’s it going to cost? And guess what? We still don’t even know.

 

Brenda : [00:35:17] We don’t know. And you know, when I talked with our Manager of Finance, his response to me is I’ve only got that report to go the VP report, the report that makes Surrey, the poor cousin to Vancouver. I’ve only got that report to go on. And that report is so subpar, there is no way that it’s going to be good enough. And I dare say that the police board and hopefully the new chief wouldn’t find it acceptable anyways.

 

But regardless, we are looking at hundreds of thousands of millions of dollars just on capital costs alone. I mean, I don’t see how I mean, we throw around the 129 million as the capital cost, but I think that still leaves the unknown costs.

 

Jack: [00:36:12] That’s only for less police officers. Let’s not forget that these costs are going to get us less officers here in Surrey.

 

Brenda : [00:36:20] So, Jack, this part, you know, off the top of your head we own and the Mayor says, well, we own the cars we own of this. We own them????

 

Jack: [00:36:27] No, you don’t.

 

Brenda : [00:36:29] So that’s not truthful. We don’t?

 

Jack: [00:36:31] So, first of all, some of our buildings are leased so the city doesn’t own them. Let’s get that thing very clear. The other one is, look. Yeah, the cars. Well, you actually don’t own the cars because those cars are bought from a national contract. OK, so as you buy in bulk, you pay less and there’s a certain percentage of the time you factor in depreciation through the contract. So, each car is going to have to get value-added. Who actually who owns them and what part and how much of it? So that’s a factor to consider.

 

The other one is equipment. Specialized equipment like the city of Surrey never have to go on to go out and buy ammunition or weaponry of any kind protective equipment. And we’re not talking about stuff you can buy off the shelf. The stuff that has to be research has to adequately support and protect the police and the public. So, there’s a lot of R&D that needs to go into the process. So, you know, we own the guns and the uniform, you don’t.

 

And you can’t just take the patch off and slap another, one on the next day. That’s very simplistic thinking. And then there’s also the liability factor to which they overlook. So, of course, when you buy for the federal government, you aren’t paying the GST. Guess what? Surrey, you can start paying the GST when it comes to purchasing some of those items.

 

Brenda : [00:37:53] And now what about the IT, the IT is if you want to talk about urban policing in 2020 and beyond the 21st century, we were going to be all about IT. And I’m sure it’s not going to be tied up with a bow and handed over to this.

 

Jack: [00:38:12] Even if, the RCMP comes back and says for the short term, we can help you with a year or two by doing a type of bridging rate, which would be a first for them to do, because it’s not something they normally do. Even then. What’s the cost of that of the time and the future cost as you still have to build it out Surrey’s IT network. So, you know, in a time when we’re looking for efficiencies, this really isn’t an efficient way to go.

 

Brenda : [00:38:40] I think the other thing that we haven’t tackled and in talking to a number of people, they don’t really know how to tackle it is the whole issue around risk management. And that is when a police officer either has an accident where they hit somebody’s property or they damage a car or somebody else’s property, all of that is paid directly. The city doesn’t have insurance, cities are self-insured. So, currently all of the risk management is borne by the Federal Government through the RCMP that all is paid for including things like a dog bite, for example, which could be hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars.

 

Jack: [00:39:26] So anytime there’s an accidental death or property damage, now the City of Surrey is going to be looking to look and have to defend that. And taxpayers have to pay for that. You know, getting back to the police cars, even Brenda, right now, you pay 18 bucks, I think whatever the registration fee is to go get the decal on it. You’re not paying the insurance because it’s covered through a national fleet insurance.

 

Brenda : [00:39:51] It’s all there’s just so many variables that have not been addressed. And all this is based on their numbers, which show less police officers, even though the union will say there has to be two officers in the car, we’re going to have less officers and less cars now on the street.

 

Jack: [00:40:14] That’s you know, who knows with what you hear coming out. And part of the problem is that is now that we have, you know, Councillors that didn’t ask the hard questions or chose not to hear them and listen to the public, you’re thinking by offloading it on to the police board that, you know, that the question is going to change in any way. Well, it’s not going to change.

 

Brenda : [00:40:38] So you and I did a little bit of media over the last couple of days, specifically on the human resource side, the hiring of police officers and what’s going to happen and when it’s going to happen. Yeah, I’ve done some research and I know that right across Canada and actually all of North America hiring officers is a is a tough challenge that they’re just not very many police officers out there looking for work. I can tell you that for sure. And many, many jurisdictions are doing significant signing bonuses for those officers. But there’s a whole bunch of pieces to that. So, do you want to speak a little bit?

 

Jack: [00:41:21] Yeah, one of the major challenges is going to be, even though there’s pension portability, it’s not at par with where you’re coming from. So, say if you have a 10-year member in the RCMP, I’m using this as a rough, rough estimate. And you transition over to SPD is you can only bring over roughly about I think it’s six point five or six point eight percent of your of your pension over or sixty, six point five to ten years and 10 years, I think. So, you know, who’s going to come up with the difference in that?

 

It’ll have to be the hiring agency, which be the City of Surrey. So, you got gaps in there. You know, there’s another statement out there floating around that, well, in a couple of years, the RCMP is going to be unionized and they’re going to be up at, you know, such a high rate that will make a difference. Well, that’s a bit of a fallacy. I can tell you the RCMP is already unionized, first of all, and it’s represented by the largest police union in the country and second largest in North America behind NYPD.

 

So recently when Red Deer did their study, even if RCMP members get an 18 percent raise increase, is it going to. Is it going to offset the cost of going to SPD first? And the answer still was no. It’s still cheaper to have RCMP members, even if they were to get an 18 percent wage increase. And that’s right in the report from Red Deer.

 

Brenda : [00:43:02] So in terms of this specific training, though, let’s go to that. We talked about the Justice Institute (JI), and it’s not open right now when it gets opened. And, of course, that’s paid for by the province of British Columbia. So, I suppose they’re going to have to amp that up and increase their budget for the JI if they’re going to put through the number of officers.

 

Jack: [00:43:25] Yeah, and here’s the thing is that the RCMP depot is open and they are training cadets right now through there because I mean, they have, you know, an obligation, responsibility to and they can do it in a safe manner. They’re in fact, when I was training in there, we had people that came over from police officers, from both Spain and I think Australia came to see the sort of best practices at the time. But even for a new recruit that leaves, the RCMP doesn’t have to come to Surrey anywhere else. If they leave within two years, they have to pay back that cost of training as well. So that’s something else that’s not even factored in. So if you do get junior members coming over to sign up, they’re going to have to eat that cost or the City of Surrey is going to have to have to upfront that cost as well.

 

Brenda : [00:44:14] But, you know, there’s one other thing. And we were looking at a report and it was a report. I can’t remember exactly when it was done, but it was Peter German on the Justice Institute. And as I remember, that report was very clear that the J.I. is just an inferior training facility for police officers.

 

Jack: [00:44:35] Yeah, at the time at the time, I’m sure there’s been some recommendations that have been that have been acted on from that time. But generally, you know, what ranks top is actually the RCMP training facility out a Regina because of the high standards, the high standard of the instructors, and plus the fact that they train in so many different ways for right across this country.

 

Brenda : [00:44:58] So there’s training and there’s training. There’s the initial training that gets a person to become an officer and then there’s ongoing training. And I know that if you read through the initial report, the VPD report, there’s lots of little indications in there that the VPD would like to do some collaboration on that training. I know that.

 

Jack: [00:45:20] Well, they’d like to bill the City of Surrey.

 

Brenda : [00:45:22] They would. And they would like to build a training centre in the City of Surrey. Right. But, you know, if you look at jurisdictions like Calgary, the Calgary Police Department, they have their own training facility. And I know I’ve heard for years that VPD would like to open theirs, but they need the synergy of numbers. They don’t have the numbers to do it yet. Calgary has a significant I think they have 2200 officers working in Calgary police department. So, if you took and built a training centre in Surrey for Vancouver, their dream to have their own training facility could come true, I guess. I guess that’s part of where they want to go to this.

 

Jack: [00:46:06] No, no. Similar thing. We’ll build a training facility here. Surrey upfront the cost, build it and then we’ll send the instructors out here and bill you for the training. So, it seems like once again, you’re here sorry, taxpayers being treated like the poor cousins.

 

Brenda : [00:46:22]  So, you know, it’s funny, last year, the fire department in Surrey opened up their training facility on 64th and a really great facility, actually. They’ve done a fantastic job of it. And I did a tour with some of some of council, including the Mayor. And he just looked around and said, this will be a great training facility for the new city police department. And.

 

Jack: [00:46:50] It’s a fire facility.

 

Brenda : [00:46:51] And it’s a fire facility like, come on. But anyway, you know, we’re starting to see other synergies happening around the Lower Mainland, certainly Delta, Abbotsford North and do some stuff in the Delta area.

 

Jack: [00:47:07] What I’ve heard recently is that Abbotsford police are looking to partner with the RCMP regional ERT teams because of the cost savings that’s involved there.

 

Brenda : [00:47:24] Well, there is I mean, certainly the RCMP are the model and we know that the RCMP are recognized in the world in the top three police forces across the world. So this isn’t that they really are a shining example of policing and in the world.

 

Jack: [00:47:45] And you know what I find a little amazing, some of these people that have worked on this transition report, you know, in the past, you brought up Mr. Walz I think co-authored that report with Peter German, that report on the JI.

 

How come that wasn’t included in the transition report? You know, here’s an option. But look, you know, three or four years ago we did this report and this is what we discovered. Right. And it’s like, you know, you saying in, you know, 2018 your city needs, you know, 300 more officers right now and then, boom, you know,  a year and a half later. Something else is written in the report. So really, when you get some of these academics in here now involved in this stuff, it just, you know, it just seems very, very hollow and very, very misleading.

 

Brenda : [00:48:37] You know, if we go back kind of back a number of years, we remember things like Wally Opal talking about regional police. We’ve talked about that, you know, from time to time over the last decades in British Columbia. You know, certainly the RCMP, our Surrey Police Department, and, you know, I’m very, very hopeful that they will stay that way. But regionally, there could be a plan in place right now, though, without that, it seems like this is all fractured and so destabilizing for not only Metro Vancouver, but beyond like Fraser Valley as well.

 

Jack: [00:49:17] Have you heard one Mayor come out and support this?

 

Brenda : [00:49:20] No, I’ve heard Mayors that do not support it, though, and they’ve talked to me at Metro Vancouver saying, can you do anything because they’re frightened they’re going to lose a third of their workforce, a third of their officers.

 

Jack: [00:49:32] And it’s well, unless there’s a regional cost that’s associated with it, too. And you know, if I could hear one Mayor, elected official, even, you know, MLA or MP come forth to say this is a really good idea for Surrey, you’d start to convince me. But even other levels of government, everybody says, well, no, they’re allowed to do it. So, let them do it. That’s the answer. It’s not it’s a great idea. It’s going to make Surrey any safer. So, what does that say?

 

Brenda : [00:49:58] Exactly. And we know that, you know, in the end of all of this, we still have not had a rationale for the transition that at least inspired me to reconsider my position. And now adding the cost of COVID to the mix. It’s I think it’s just imperative that we stop this madness.

 

Jack: [00:50:21] Well, we had Councillors of our own in council now for years. And I bring up Mr. Doug Elford as one of those individuals who said, you know, we need more boots on the ground, more boots on the ground. You know, I live in Newton and I heard it. And, you know, Jack, we need more boots on the ground, Surrey. He needs more boots on the ground. When the opportunity came to actually put boots on the ground, I guess what he voted against it, you know,

 

Brenda : [00:50:47] Consistently.

 

Jack: [00:50:48] Yes, very consistently.

 

Brenda : [00:50:50] Yeah, consistently. Like three years now. Three or two years. He’s voted against adding any more officers.

 

Jack: [00:51:00] Even though the report said it should happen. So, where’s that?

 

Brenda : [00:51:04] Yeah, the mayor didn’t include either the council or the public in this entire process. I don’t know what he thinks that he runs the show and owns it all, but that’s not how counsel is supposed to work.

 

Jack: [00:51:19] So, yeah, you know what – we had to FOI (Freedom of Information Request) our own public consultation because the city’s press release misrepresented the results of that consultation.

 

Brenda : [00:51:31] You know, we did get the VPD report before it went to Victoria, we had no time to read it. We had an hour.

 

Jack: [00:51:41] You know, we read that report and guess what? It was gone before we even closed the binders. OK, it’s going to Victoria.

 

Brenda : [00:51:50] Yeah. Yeah, it what a sham of a process. That’s all you can say. And then it comes down to that other question. Why did VPD in the city of Vancouver even do it in the first place? This never.

 

Jack: [00:52:04] What’s the rush? Brenda, what is the rush?

 

Brenda : [00:52:07] I don’t know what the rush is. I mean, especially now when we have so many things we need to do in this city. There is so much infrastructure, some of it that’s crumbling like our roads. We should be spending our money on that. Instead, we’re full steam ahead. I, I don’t get it. There’s really more questions than there are answers.

 

Jack: [00:52:30] But it’d be nice if other elected officials could come give us those answers. Why do you support this? Because on an election promise? We’ll guess what? There’s a lot of promises made during that election, right. There is a promise to have transparency, to properly do development in the city. You know, no one talked about not paving roads. I remember that conversation ever happening now or not building facilities or not opening facilities like the 43 million dollar Clayton Rec Center. Oh, my goodness. Yeah. Just sitting there now for another year. We’ll be lucky to see that open. That’s just a total shame. But I think, you know, at the end of the day, it’s very clear that the City of Surrey residents and the taxpayers especially want to keep the RCMP.

 

Yeah, they are not convinced that the Mayor’s dream of his own police department is necessary. They certainly don’t believe it’s better. They don’t trust the process.

 

Brenda : [00:53:32] I mean, that’s.

 

Jack: [00:53:33] Absolutely there’s constant emails that we’re still getting. And I do appreciate those emails because each one of those people is a voter and a taxpayer. But I’ll tell you, though, you know, the only people that are happy about this police transition is, is the mayor and criminals.

 

Brenda : [00:53:52] Yeah, well, and I did want to ask you a little bit about that, but he just sort of answered it. Yeah, there’s no doubt about it. I mean, I think this whole process will go down in the Poli Sci (Political Science) textbook says a, what not to do in terms of local government public policy, because if they could have ever destroyed public faith in the process, they’ve done it.

 

If they’ve ever ignored the political landscape, they’ve done it. If they could have ever ignored the politicians, they’ve done it.

 

Jack: [00:54:30] There’s no trust in the process. And people, you know, people are inflamed. I’ve never seen people or residents in Surrey rise up on issues like this. I mean, when you know, when you have Councillors that shut down their social media accounts when they don’t want to go out in the public and engage or they want to use the only platform they have, which is their party platform, to really bring up articles that really are nonsensical or really make no sense or have relevancy in the conversation going on in Surrey at the time. That speaks volumes. And, you know, as a politician, if you’re not out there, you know, standing up for what you believe in, um, good luck.

 

Brenda : [00:55:19] You know, I think every politician, whether they want to admit it or not, they know this is a train wreck and they know whether they’re in provincial or local government. They know that this is going to be a ballot question at the next election.

 

Jack: [00:55:36] Yeah, and we could be in an election here, you know, fairly quickly by then this year, early next year. Yeah.

 

Brenda : [00:55:41] The provincial government has to be well aware of this. This anger is against the province as well. It’s against the solicitor general specifically. But this is going to be quite a challenge. It’s on the desk of the Solicitor General and he could do something about it.

 

Brenda : [00:56:00] Well, he could. I mean, I certainly haven’t seen police services come out and with a gross endorsement of this plan. So, they could step in and say, look, this is not going to make surgery any safer. And the Solicitor General has an obligation to listen to that.

 

[00:56:16] And to listen to that, and I think I think there’s one thing, because we should wrap it up, but I think one of the things we need to say to the residents and is that it is not over.

 

The mayor would like us to all get in line. He certainly has said that that we should, you know, support it. We cannot support this is a folly of a process. It’s a bad decision. It’s bad for Surrey. We won’t support it. And I think at the end of the day, we will see.

 

We will all know this is not over. There is a lot to do. There is a lot for the board to do. And you know, the one thing, Jack, you can maybe talk a bit about before we close is the idea of having a police board with the RCMP.

 

Jack: [00:57:05] Yeah. So, there is the ability to have a police board with the RCMP here. That model exists in Alberta and Nova Scotia also in other communities in the North. The interesting thing is, though, ever since I started talking about the mentoring that I’ve had, other regional cities in the area asked me about it and I’ve been sharing information with them. So, you might actually see a police board set up in another RCMP jurisdiction before Surrey.

 

Brenda : [00:57:44] So that’s the specific answer. Back to the big question. How do you get local government input? We already have a vehicle for that through the Public Safety Committee, which this Mayor has cancelled and never resurrected. But if it means having a public, a public faced board, that’s another great idea. And we can do that and we can have that input that he’s.

 

Jack: [00:58:11] Yeah, that’s right. That’s easily doable. It’s an accepted practice and it’ll be made up with real residents. The current police board actually is made up or people that don’t live in Surrey, which is hard to explain that to me. So, you have four local input, according to the mayor, is you let the Solicitor General make the decision and decide who’s on it. And they don’t have to be from Surrey. That completely runs against the entire narrative. But, what he has to say.

 

Brenda : [00:58:40] So I would encourage people to continue to voice their opposition to the local, the provincial and federal governments to media when you get an opportunity and let them know that you’re not supportive of this process, because certainly, we know the vast, vast, vast majority of Surrey residents do not want it.

 

Jack: [00:59:01] Yeah. And the best place to exercise that is in your democratic right to vote.

 

Brenda : [00:59:07] So we know that the residents will do that in the election and our election for local government is some time away in 2022. But there will be a provincial election either late this year or early next year. So, stay tuned for that and make sure that who’s ever running in your area knows your position. I think we should call this one. We’ve probably overstayed our time,

 

Jack: [00:59:38] But it’s an important issue. I know it’s a lot. It’s been a long one, but a good discussion. And I really want to thank all those that do follow us on social media, the Surrey Connect website, Facebook page, you know, to Councillor Locke, Twitter myself, Facebook. So, if you need to get a hold of us, we’re around. If you have any questions or if you want to see topics on some of the podcasts, reach out and let us know. We’ll be more than happy to see if we can facilitate that.

 

Brenda : [01:00:10] Well, thank you all. Thank you for spending the time with us today. And take good care, be safe and have a great rest of the summer.

 

Jack: [01:00:19] Yep. See you guys soon, bye.

 

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