$16K Surrey police 'advertising' not acceptable: councillor
A Surrey city councillor is condemning the decision to spend thousands on an "advertising" campaign to switch to a municipal force, including outfitting what it called the city's first municipal police car, "SPD-001."
Receipts provided to CTV News Vancouver after a Freedom of Information Request show Surrey has spent at least $16,000 on parts of that campaign, including branding, leasing the vehicle, and paying a California-based voice actor.
"This isn't consultation, this is advertising," said Coun. Linda Annis. "I think it's shocking. The police transition report is still in the hands of Victoria. We don't know whether it's going to go ahead and spending tax dollars on frivolous things like this is not on."
Back in May, Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum unveiled the first municipal vehicle with fanfare and a video during the 2019 State of the City address. (https://bc.ctvnews.ca/police-car-stock-photos-an-unconvincing-sales-pitch-surrey-councillor-1.4412634)
But the video contained stock photos of American police officers doctored to look as if they were members of the yet-to-be-formed Surrey Police Force.
The stock photos were free with an existing subscription, city officials said, and the photo doctoring was done in house.
The city spent $550 on a voiceover and re-take by Conner Evans, a California-based voice actor.
As for the vehicle, the documents show it cost $5,376 to lease it for three months, $4,700.64 to decal it, and $5,775 to provide "branding extensions."
There are no receipts for some items that are usually found on police cars, such as lights and sirens.
Since "SPD-001" was unveiled, it's been used at several consultations around Surrey, with similar messaging to the video.
Surrey's mayor couldn't be reached for comment Wednesday.
Earlier this week, McCallum disbanded a public safety committee in favour of a new committee called the Police Transition Advisory Committee.
"To announce this at the last meeting, that's not on, particularly because that report hasn't been approved," Annis said.
The proposed police force would start on April 1, 2021, costing $192.5 million with 805 police officers – about $19 million per year more than the existing arrangement, which the Surrey RCMP reports as 843 officers.
McCallum has said a police force would cost Surrey taxpayers more but said that would be made up for as the RCMP salaries increase over time.
Jon Woodward sat down with BTS with CTV News Vancouver host Penny Daflos to talk about the hidden cost of Surrey's police transition plan. You can listen to more here: https://bc.ctvnews.ca/bts-podcast