Surrey considers $500,000 in IT upgrades for city police force
VANCOUVER -- As Surrey continues its plan to transition from the RCMP to a municipal police force, city staff are recommending that Surrey spend $503,525 to upgrade its database security system.
The general managers for corporate services and policing transition made the suggestion in a corporate report Thursday night.
The funding would pay for three security modules and one year of maintenance.
Ongoing annual maintenance after that is expected to cost $83,000.
The modules would allow the city to build on its existing Oracle database platform with minimal disruptions to the current infrastructure.
City staff say the heightened security is needed to safely store sensitive police information.
It's currently being secured by the RCMP, but will become the responsibility of the municipality when it launches its police force.
The cost of the upgrades would come out of the 2020 policing budget.
Surrey's five-year budget has $129.6 million earmarked for the transition.
Former Mountie and current independent Coun. Jack Hundial says he was shocked to read about the proposed expense.
“At this point the priority needs to be looking after the residents of Surrey as they go through this COVID and certainly prepare our community for what’s here today and what we’re expecting perhaps a second wave later this year,” said Hundial.
The city announced last month that it is facing up to a $42-million budgetary shortfall for 2020 due to the pandemic.
According to a poll conducted by Pollara Strategic Insights and commissioned by the National Police Federation, 83 per cent of Surrey residents say this isn't the time to put funds towards phasing out the RCMP and creating a municipal police force in its place.
The survey included a randomly selected sample of 803 Surrey residents between April 17 and 27.
Hundial believes the estimate provided by staff is not a true reflection of how much the upgrades will actually cost.
“Realistically even half a million dollars is not going to be enough. At the end of the day we’re looking of costs of upwards of $30 to 40 million,” Hundial said, who won't be supporting the recommendation when the report goes to city council Monday.
In late February, the provincial government approved the city's creation of the Surrey Police Board, which is responsible for hiring police and civilian employees.
It will also be responsible for financial oversight of the department.
Hundial says the board could negotiate with the RCMP and Shared Services Canada to use their current security system.
However, he adds that any municipality that chooses to go its own way is giving up any federal perks.
Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum has said the Surrey Police Force will launch in April 2021.
CTV News has reached out to the mayor’s office for comment.
With files from CTV Vancouver's Alyse Kotyk