The Surrey Connect civic slate, political rival to Mayor Doug McCallum’s Safe Surrey Coalition, is taking umbrage with Surrey Police Service officers getting a second salary increase in 18 months despite only 29 of 161 officers actually patrolling the city’s streets alongside Surrey Mounties.
“The SPS is significantly behind schedule, over budget, and continues to milk the Surrey taxpayer. This has to stop, ” says Coun. Brenda Locke, Surrey Connect’s mayoral candidate heading into the October civic election.
“Adding insult to injury, it is touting that it just completed 1,000 files while RCMP members do more than 200,000 files a year.”
The latest increase is three per cent for 2022. The previous increase was half of one per cent.
“They not really even operational yet,” Locke said. “Lots of them aren’t even out in the field.”
Coun. Doug Elford, of the Safe Surrey Coalition, replied that “everyone has a right to a pay raise – it’s not uncommon, we just approved a collective agreement with our CUPE workers and with the firemen, this is something that happens regularly. It’s not to be unexpected.”
Last September Surrey RCMP’s officers, with less than 20 of the 843 Mounties being unionized, ratified a first collective agreement featuring wage increases that Kam Grewal, Surrey’s general manager of finance, said equals a “total aggregate value of close to $25 million if we include 2022, so I think that is quite significant.
Elford told the Now-Leader on Monday that “one of the reasons we’re behind is the RCMP has slowed the process of allowing members of the SPS on the street with this 22-week security clearance.
“We have officers in the SPS that are ready to go and be on the street right now,” he said, “and we can put additional officers on the street right now but the RCMP is very reluctant to support getting more of these SPS people on the street. They’re trained, ready to go on the street, but the RCMP just keeps dragging their feet on allowing this to happen. That’s something that frustrates me, is the process of moving forward with this whole SPS conversion, is going a lot slower than I would prefer.”
On Jan. 6 Assistant Commissioner Brian Edwards, in charge of the Surrey RCMP, told the Now-Leader that the RCMP “categorically rejects any inference that we are deliberately impeding progress of deployment or using the required security clearance process to delay the Surrey police transition.
“The RCMP is bound by guidelines set by the Treasury Board of Canada, which all parties are aware of, and will not compromise pre-existing security clearance requirements,” Edwards said.
Rick Stewart, president of the Surrey Police Union, noted that the SPS contract provides wage increases in 2021 and 2022 to keep the officers’ salaries in line with their Lower Mainland counterparts.
“The wage adjustment Coun. Locke references resulted from a recent Vancouver Police arbitration award to ensure equitable compensation compared to other police agencies in the region,” he said.
As for Locke’s reference to the SPS having recently attended its 1,000th call for service, Stewart added, “Every new police agency starts at zero calls. Our members look forward to attending all 200,000 files as we move closer to assuming full policing responsibilities for Surrey.”