Even before 46 police officers were sworn-in to the Surrey Police Service on July 16, taxpayers were already on the hook for more than $1,645,200 in wages and benefits for a police force that has yet to replace the Surrey RCMP.
That was to June 30, SPS spokesman Ian MacDonald confirmed Friday. Normally, he noted, reporting out is done on a quarterly basis.
“I would says the most accurate update would be the conclusion of the next quarter,” he said. “I would anticipate that would be a substantially bigger number because we are, in police terms, we are on-boarding people pretty much constantly at this point.”
“My belief – and it’s a strong belief – is that that would be inclusive of all SPS managers as well.”
MacDonald said it’s anticipated close to 100 officers will be hired by the fall.
A probationary constable’s salary is $75,488 and the most experienced constables, with 20 years, are salaried at $124,624 while a staff sergeant is paid $145,584.
“The officers who were involved in the swearing-in were all experienced,” MacDonald noted. “So we won’t have any fresh-out-of-the-academy recruits probably for another year and a half or so, so we’re not going to have any of the probationary constable wages.”
Senior management salaries are considerably higher – with Chief Constable Norm Lipinski’s base salary at $$285,000, increasing up to $335,000 taking into account other benefits – and the three deputy chiefs each taking in $235,000.
While these officers are not yet on patrol, as the Surrey RCMP continues to be the police force of jurisdiction, MacDonald said they are not being paid to sit around.
“There is absolutely a training component, and so there are things, and this would have happened after the swearing-in, but there are things that you are obligated to do as a police officer in the province of British Columbia,” he said. “And so it’s going to run the gamut of things – some of them are policy based but to give you an example, just on the training side of things, it would be everything from use of force to de-escalation tactics. All of the things that commonly people will ask questions after an incident, was the officer adequately trained in all of these things.”
Ian MacDonald. (SPS photo)
However, the 46 officers recently sworn in are not rookies and would have received training in these areas from the police departments they had previously served with before joining the SPS.
“One-hundred per cent,” MacDonald conceded. But they will still have to meet the qualifications demanded by the SPS before they can be deployed on the road, he said.
“The nature of the transition, you couldn’t have nothing happen and no staff and then flip a switch and have 800 people show up to work and know what they were going to do the next day. So unfortunately that is a reality and I think in policing it’s more of a reality than in a lot of other work environments because you’re talking about public safety. I know it sounds extreme, but you couldn’t have that scenario,” MacDonald said. “At the end of the day, we are building a brand-new police service, and one that is going to be serving a population of close to 600,000 people. So you have to have all the mechanisms in place, so it isn’t the case, by any stretch, that we have people just sitting around. I have not passed an individual who doesn’t have nine or 10 things to do.”
MacDonald said some of that might be project based, or training, or planning. “There are lots of things that have to happen.”