Surrey police force will cost more, says former RCMP deputy commissioner
Former RCMP deputy commissioner Peter German speaks about money laundering in B.C. in this June 27, 2019 file image. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
VANCOUVER -- The plan to replace the Surrey RCMP with a municipal police force has drawn its share of criticism. Now, a former high-ranking RCMP officer is adding his concerns to the ongoing public debate.
Lawyer and former RCMP deputy commissioner Peter German has made his first public comment on the issue in an op-ed article. In it, he challenges what he believes are misconceptions surrounding the transition plan.
“It just bothered me, and it has for months, if not a couple years, what I was hearing," German told CTV News. "A lot of misinformation or lack of information."
Among his arguments: taxpayers will be on the hook for more than with the RCMP.
“There’s a 10 per cent subsidy right off the top with the federal government. So Surrey would lose that,” German said, and added there are also the costs associated with recruiting and training, not to mention offering a higher salary to be competitive enough to attract officers. “It’s a huge, huge undertaking.”
German estimates Surrey may need about 1,200 police officers, taking into account many municipal forces are required by contract to have a certain number of two-person cars, unlike the RCMP. He also argues criminals could take advantage of instability during the hand-off period.
“You’re going to have essentially two police forces in Surrey during the transition period, which could be years,” German said. “You’re going to have essentially two systems at work, communications systems, I don’t know how they would divide that up, quite frankly.”
Former B.C. attorney general Wally Oppal, who chairs the committee in charge of overseeing the police transition plan, said the question of whether Surrey should adopt a municipal force is ultimately up to the city's elected officials.
“They have decided by unanimous vote of city council that they want to have their own police force,” Oppal said. “They have made that decision, and the province is obligated to listen to their application and to assist them, providing they meet all the requirements.”
Oppal said exactly how much the new force could cost is speculative at this point.
“It’s a bit premature to talk about costs but it will probably cost more than the RCMP as it presently stands,” Oppal said.
German also raised concerns about the ability to recruit and train enough officers for the city. He rejected suggestions that Surrey will be safer or the quality of policing will improve.
“In the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, whether you have a blue stripe on your trousers or a yellow stripe, the quality of policing is the same. And that’s probably the biggest issue of all,” German said.
CTV News reached out to the city of Surrey for a response to German’s article, but were told the mayor would not be commenting.