Delta is looking at contracting out an important police service, says the president of the union representing civic workers.
CUPE Local 454 president Darryl Robison said he's concerned jail guard duties in Delta will be transferred to Surrey.
That would mean those detained by Delta police would be sent to a Surrey jail cell rather than being held in Ladner or North Delta.
"There's in the neighbourhood of 900 to 1,000 detentions at least and about 200 of those are the catch and release variety. So, 80 per cent of the prisoners would be going out and the officers would be heading out with them. I'm not sure they've considered that," said Robison.
The union president attended a Delta police board meeting last week where a report on the prisoner transfer proposal was discussed.
He said the report noted Delta jails are currently below standard, requiring renovations to bring them up to a provincial standard or even higher RCMP standard. Those costs would add up to around $800,000 for Delta's facilities. The Ladner cells would require the majority of the upgrades.
Robison said the police department's Ladner headquarters would become a "catch and release" facility for those detained for four hours or less, while all other prisoners would be transferred to Surrey RCMP's headquarters near Highway 10.
Noting Delta jails wouldn't even be utilized for drunk tanks, Robison said eight auxiliaries and one full-time civilian guard would lose their jobs.
"I think this is a service that should be provided locally. We have a local police force. We're not an RCMP community," he said.
Robison said he wasn't informed of the operating costs for Delta to go to the proposed model of transferring prisoners to Surrey.
Delta police spokesperson Const. Ciaran Feenan confirmed the department is in talks with Surrey RCMP to transfer prisoners that are held overnight, or longer, to that detachment.
He said anyone arrested and released on a promise to appear in court would still be processed through either the Ladner headquarters or the North Delta Public Safety Building.
If the proposed model goes ahead, the change would be temporary, according to the police department.
"It's not something we want to see long term," Feenan said.
He said the department is looking at the temporary measure until renovations can be done to upgrade the facilities. He said there has been deterioration in the cell block in Ladner over the last decade and renovations need to be done to ensure safety for staff, police officers and prisoners. The renovations are estimated to cost between $600,000 and $1 million.
"We do meet the provincial standard for cell blocks, however, we need to take it to a higher level to ensure safety for our members, staff and prisoners."
Feenan said the department is in initial talks but is looking to start using Surrey's cells in the spring.
He said the department would work to find the one full-time staffer affacted a position elsewhere in the organization.