Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum poses with an example of a Surrey Police cruiser after his State of the City Address at Civic Hotel on May 7. (Photo: Amy Reid)

Province approves Surrey municipal police force

Minister of Public Safety Mike Farnworth green-lights mayor’s campaign promise

It’s a green light for the Surrey Police Department.

The Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General has approved the City of Surrey’s municipal police force, according to a joint statement from Minister Mike Farnworth and Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum Thursday (Aug. 22).

It says the minister gave the green light “required to establish Surrey’s municipal police department.”

“To ensure all key issues are addressed and all complex details are in place to facilitate an orderly transition, a joint project team has been struck,” the statement says. “The joint transition committee, chaired by the Hon. Wally Oppal, will work expeditiously to provide advice to the Director of Police Services through to the Solicitor General relating to the establishment of Surrey’s municipal police department.”

McCallum will be available to speak to the media at 2 p.m.

Lone Surrey First Councillor Linda Annis, who had called for a referendum on the policing issued a statement after the announcement saying she is “disappointed that the province hasn’t provided an opportunity for Surrey taxpayers to have their say.”

“I am hopeful the task force that has been set up will drill down into the details of the proposed new police department and will provide some mechanism for Surrey voters and taxpayers to be heard in a serious way, something that has been missing so far,” the statement read, adding Annis has “always been important to me that the citizens of Surrey have their say in any move from the RCMP to a municipal force.”

READ ALSO: First look at Surrey’s policing transition report

SEE MORE: Could Surrey find 800-plus officers for its new force by 2021?

READ ALSO: McCallum says Surrey police officers will be patrolling streets by July 2020, May 7, 2019

Councillor Brenda Locke – who split from the mayor’s Safe Surrey Coalition earlier this year over his so-called “my-way-or-the-highway approach” – said she figured the approval “was bound to happen.”

“Now it gets real. This is where the rubber hits the road,” she told the Now-Leader. “Now, the people who wrote the report have to fully disclose what they mean. The public has to know what the numbers are. This will now create that place where they can really talk about what the costs are going to look like to the citizens and residents of Surrey. You can’t tell right now.”

Locke said McCallum and the Vancouver Police Department, which helped Surrey develop its transition plan, “are going to have to defend the report they’ve written, because they’ve chosen to be silent until now.”

According to Locke, the “cost implications are going to become very real, very soon.”

Locke also said she hopes the provincial government will “demand meaningful consultation,” saying the consultation that’s gone on thus far “can’t be taken seriously.”

With provincial approval, McCallum previously said “the next step is to form Surrey Police Board and Surrey’s Police Board will be the governing body of Surrey Police and one of their first responsibilities will be to select a new Surrey Police commander.”

Back in May, McCallum said in his 2019 State of the City Address that Surrey municipal police officers would be “patrolling our streets by July 2020.”

The City of Surrey showcased a police cruiser prototype outside city hall on May 7, before the transition plan was approved.

The city’s transition plan has been slammed by several city councillors, some who used to sit on McCallum’s slate until they split over concerns.

READ MORE: Surrey councillor says proposed police force ‘fails’ abused children

SEE ALSO: Linda Hepner flunks Surrey’s police transition plan

Most recently, Councillor Brenda Locke slammed the proposed policing transition plan saying it would cut the current Surrey RCMP Police Mental Health and Outreach Team in half, from 20 to 11.

Prior to that, in mid-June, Locke criticized the report for reducing police officers for Sophie’s Place’s Child and Youth Abuse Team, saying it “fails abused children” by reducing the minimum number of officers based there from 11 to seven.

Councillors Jack Hundial and Steven Pettigrew have also split from the slate, attributing their departures to what they describe as a lack of transparency and consultation on council and with the public.

Hundial split after the mayor dissolved the city’s Public Safety Committee – which all of council sat on – in favour of his new Interim Police Transition Committee for the force before it was approved.

In early August, Hundial issued a press release slamming the plan for only intending to have 80 per cent of its authorized strength on day one of operations, and for having significantly fewer supervisory personnel.

“In my experience as a police officer of 25 years and as a front-line police supervisor in Surrey, less supervision leads to increased taxpayer liability and less effective public safety.”

READ ALSO: Surrey showcases police car for a city force B.C. has not yet approved, May 7, 2019

READ ALSO: Surrey spent $15K on police cruiser prototype, June, 20, 2019

The City of Surrey’s proposed transition plan to convert from RCMP states the force will “go live” on April 1, 2021 and its operating costs will be $192.5 million that year.

That’s a 10.9 per cent increase from the $173.6 million the city projects the RCMP would cost that year. The report states that a unionization drive is underway within the RCMP and if achieved, “the gap between the cost of the Surrey RCMP and the cost of the Surrey PD would be eliminated.”

There are also an estimated $39.2 million in start-up costs.

While the proposed municipal force would have fewer officers, the report says it would have more staff overall.

Currently, Surrey RCMP has 843 members although the city report says 51 of those positions are vacant, meaning a “funded strength” of 792 officers. There are also 302 City of Surrey employees supporting the RCMP.

Surrey RCMP, however, says they don’t have 51 vacant positions but that those positions are created to cover temporary vacancies, when needed, such as maternity or sick leaves.

“It is important to note that we currently have a full complement of police officers at Surrey Detachment,” Surrey RCMP said in an emailed statement after the report’s release.

The transition report suggests a new municipal force in Surrey would have 805 police officers, 325 civilian positions and 20 Community Safety Personnel.

-With files from Amy Reid



lauren.collins@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Lauren on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cranbrook Knights of Columbus donate funds to seven local organizations

City Councillor Wayne Price (centre) presents a $400 cheque to Brian Clifford… Continue reading

CBT grant helps local disc golf club improve youth access to sport

The Columbia Basin Trust (CBT) has announced it will be distributing a… Continue reading

Battle of youth vs experience at 2020 BC Championships in Cranbrook

Rebecca Connop Price The 2020 BC Championships in Cranbrook next week could… Continue reading

It happened this week in 1913

Jan. 19 - 25: Compiled by Dave Humphrey from the newspapers at the Cranbrook History Centre and Archives

You’re never too old to be Green

Cranbrook Community Theatre made boosting the green footprint of the Studio/Stage Door a priority in 2019.

Officials reaching out to those in contact with Canada’s first coronavirus patient

The illness has sickened at least 1,975 people and killed 56 in China

Canada’s basketball community mourns Kobe Bryant after helicopter crash

Bryant was an 18-time NBA all-star who won five championships

‘Devastated’: Fans, celebrities remember Kobe Bryant after his death

Bryant played all of his 20-year career with the NBA with the Los Angeles Lakers

Investigation launched after six dead puppies dumped in Richmond hotel parking lot

RAPS reminds people they can always give up puppies they can’t take care of

Canadian Lunar New Year celebrations dampened by coronavirus worries

But Health Minister Patty Hajdu said today that the risk of infection is low

What’s On At The Cranbrook Public Library

Mike Selby Novelist and travel writer Paul Theroux describes his journey as… Continue reading

B.C. VIEWS: New coronavirus outbreak an important reminder

Walking the line between cautious and alarmist

Kobe Bryant, daughter killed in California helicopter crash

Bryant entered the NBA draft straight out of high school in 1996

Most Read