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

Just Posted

Agassiz, Harrison take home the gold at the 55+ BC Games

The two communities captured 13 medals at the seniors’ games in Kelowna this year

Kent fees going up for some recreation, office services

Carafes of coffee will cost $15 at the CRCC, while private lessons at the pool will be $27

Multiple accidents on Highway 1 slowing morning commutes

One accident just past 232 Street in Langley, second is just East of Bradner Street in Abbotsford

Hope firefighter receives commendation for 50 years of service

Fred Robinson began his career on Vancouver Island, still working hard

East Coast comedian Ron James bringing ‘Full Throttle Tour’ to Chilliwack Cultural Centre

James is at work on the first draft of his first book, ‘All Over the Map’

VIDEO: Agassiz Fall Fair celebrates 115 years of fair fun

From 4H shows to pie eating contests, the annual fair brought its best to the community this year

Defense says burden of proof not met in double murder case against Victoria father

Closing statements begin in trial for man accused of killing daughters Christmas 2017

B.C. dog breeder banned again after 46 dogs seized

The SPCA seized the animals from Terry Baker, 66, in February 2018

Surrey mom allegedly paid $400,000 for son in U.S. college bribery scam

Xiaoning Sui, 48, was arrested in Spain on Monday night

Three dogs found shot dead in Prince George ditch

The three adult dogs appeared to be well cared for before being found with gunshot wounds, BC SPCA says

Vancouver police could be using drones to fight crime by end of year

The police department has already purchased three drones, as well as three others for training

B.C. party bus company to be monitored after 40 intoxicated teens found onboard

Police received tip teens and young adults were drinking on party buses and limousines in Surrey

Grand opening of Molson Coors Fraser Valley Brewery at Chilliwack cause for celebration

Ribbon-cutting with dignitaries, Molson brass and family marked the official grand opening

B.C. cabinet minister denies that Surrey mayor’s friend attended government meeting

Surrey councillor questions Vancouver businessman Bob Cheema’s involvement in official meeting

Most Read