More or fewer officers? Fact-checking the Surrey police transition report
Will a new municipal Surrey Police Department of 805 police officers have more or fewer badge-carrying members than the current force?
While the 189 page transition report released by the City of Surrey Monday are full of statistics, charts and details, the number that's raised the most questions is the size of the current RCMP force.
Both the report and the Surrey RCMP agree the current force has an "authorized strength" of 843 members.
But that's where the numbers begin to diverge.
The report asserts the RCMP has 51 vacancies, so its "funded strength" is only 792 members, 38 less than the proposed municipal force
But the RCMP told CTV News it's backfilled all 51 positions, so the number remains at 843.
"We are funded and approved for 843 people," Cpl. Elenore Sturko with the Surrey RCMP said Tuesday.
When asked about the discrepancy, Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum was adamant.
"No, I believe what the report says," he said.
The report was written largely by the Vancouver Police Department, said Curt Griffiths, a professor of criminology at Simon Fraser University who acted as a consultant, and the only individual with his name on the title page.
"The actual 'funding strength,' the 792 officers, came from three separate sources, all which corroborate each other," Griffiths said.
Griffiths listed those as: the City of Surrey, independent data from Statistics Canada and data from the Surrey RCMP that came as a result of a request to the province.
Griffiths also suggested the RCMP is now providing different information now than they did to the technical team who worked on the report.
"I think we lose sight of the big picture here," said Griffiths. "Numbers don't guarantee you anything… you could have 1,000 officers in Surrey today and they could still not be effective."