Surrey gets green light to establish municipal police department

Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum with a marked Surrey Police cruiser last May. Photo by Jay Sharma of Mahi Photo Studio

PUBLIC Safety Minister Mike Farnworth, as Solicitor General, on Thursday gave the City of Surrey the green light required to establish its own 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,” according to a joint statement by Farnworth and Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum.

The joint transition committee, chaired by former attorney general 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.

Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum addressing a press conference on Thursday. On the left are councillors Mandeep Nagra, Allison Patton and Doug Elford who supported a municipal police force. Photos by Jay Sharma of Mahi Photo Studio

This is a major victory for McCallum who had made the establishment of a municipal police force along with a SkyTrain and smart development his election platform.

Doug McCallum

McCallum said Thursday was a great and historic day. He told the media at Surrey City Hall that there won’t be any referendum on this issue. Talking about a timeline for the transition to a municipal police force, he noted that the RCMP contract ends in March 2021 and said he expected the new force to be in place by 2021.

He said a new police force is going to make the communities safer. The next steps would be the setting up of a police board followed by the hiring of the police chief.

McCallum expects a significant number of Surrey RCMP officers to switch over to the Surrey Police Department.

Meanwhile, Oppal said that the establishment of a Surrey police force does not harm the goal of having a regional police force that he’s advocated. In fact, it could be the first step in that direction.

Former solicitor general Kash Heed told The VOICE that he agrees with that, pointing out the cooperation that the City of Surrey received from Vancouver Police in the process of forming its police force plan.

SURREY Councillor Linda Annis of Surrey First along with councillors Jack Hundial, a former RCMP officer, and Brenda Locke, who won only because they were on McCallum’s Safe Surrey Coalition slate, tried every tactic to sabotage McCallum’s plan for a municipal police force. They were joined by Surrey Board of Trade’s Anita Huberman. Now all of them are looking pathetic.

And for some strange reason Global BC seemed to go out of the way to support this pro-RCMP lobby.

Annis was even shameless enough to use the widow of an innocent victim of the gang violence plaguing Surrey to try and scare Surrey-ites into believing that replacing the RCMP would make the crime situation worse.

The VOICE kept exposing these attempts to sabotage McCallum’s plans.

Last March McCallum was forced to issue the following statement when the pro-RCMP lobby launched an all-out attack when the mayors of Vancouver and Surrey announced on February 25 an agreement between their cities in which Vancouver would “provide technical assistance for the development of a transition plan designed to help Surrey establish a local police department.”

McCallum said in a statement: “Our platform was abundantly clear, and the public was overwhelmingly in support of what we said we would do on its behalf, if elected.”

He added: “On the night this new Council was sworn in, Council voted unanimously in favour of cancelling the contract with the RCMP and moving ahead with a municipal police department. For critics to now say that there is a lack of a mandate or public consultation for Surrey to have its own municipal police department shows little to no regard for our most basic democratic principle of respecting the will of the people.”

Jack Hundial and Brenda Locke

McCallum also pointed out: “Councillor Hundial, a retired 25-year RCMP officer, ran on that commitment and pledge to carry it out if elected. The voters entrusted us to deliver on our promises and that is a trust that Councillor Hundial is now breaking. I have no intention of breaking my campaign promises or the public’s trust.”

The mayor also noted: “While the City would be responsible for the Federal Government’s 10% contribution to officer salaries, the City would recoup $20 million in administrative costs that is currently paid in the RCMP contract. The costs associated with the transition to a Surrey Police Department are still being finalized as we work on finishing our report for the Solicitor General.”