BY RATTAN MALL
YES, the newly formed Surrey Police Service is here to stay and sources involved in the transition say the Hells Angels controversy that a member of the Surrey Police Board finds himself in isn’t expected to be a major setback. They say the new police force “is on track to go ahead.”
A source, who didn’t want to be identified, told The VOICE: “I don’t think they can let one incident like this just shelve the whole process.”
The controversy about the appointment of Semiahmoo First Nation Chief Harley Chappell to the Surrey Police Board has embarrassed the NDP government and shocked British Columbians. Vancouver Sun’s Kim Bolan last week caused a sensation when she revealed that Chappell attended a 2018 memorial service for the wife of a founder of the Hells Angels White Rock chapter and posed for several photos with Hells Angels members. Also, in November 2019, Chappell posted a birthday tribute to his dad Phillip Chappell that included a photo of Phillip wearing the Hells Angels “colours.”
Chappell has said that his dad left the Hells Angels in 1992 and that he personally has no connection to them. But that does not seem to reassure many Surrey-ites and others who note that it is all about perception.
The source noted: “Obviously they (Ministry of Public Safety) didn’t know about this. So the Solicitor General will do an investigation and if they find out that this guy can’t serve, then that will be the end of it. They will have to appoint someone else. But I don’t think that necessarily contaminates the whole police board.”
Asserting that the government is committed to the transition, he said it wasn’t unusual to come across “some blips along the way.”
Noting that the ministry usually does thorough checks on candidates for appointment to a police board that includes interviewing them, he said: “So I would have thought that he (Chappell) would have told whoever was interviewing him from the solicitor general’s department that this was a problem. What he should have said is ‘look, this is a part of my past and I still think I can serve and that shouldn’t be held against me.’ That probably would have been the smart thing to do.”
The Public Safety Ministry told The VOICE this week: “The Surrey Police Board has been established and the Board as a whole is leading the transition. This includes collaboration and cooperation with all key partners to ensure an orderly transition that prioritizes public safety.”
MEANWHILE, Surrey Police Service’s Chief Constable Norm Lipinski, who was Deputy Chief Constable of Delta Police, started his new job on Monday.
On Tuesday, he told the Surrey Police Board that the new service was building an executive team. “We’ll be doing interviews this week for deputy chiefs and hopefully be able to announce at least one in the near future,” he said.
Lipinski told the Board that he had established communications with both the Surrey RCMP Detachment and the E Division “right up to the commanding officer” and that he had a number of meetings.
He said that he “and a few others” are working on the crest that will be worn as a shoulder patch on the uniform that has yet to be designed.
MEANWHILE, former RCMP Deputy Commissioner Brenda Butterworth-Carr who was appointed Assistant Deputy Minister and Director of Police Services, Policing and Security Branch, Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General, in March of 2019 quit on Wednesday.
The VOICE reported online (voiceonline.com) that “the timing is rather suspicious because the unexpected move comes just when Public Safety Minister and Solicitor General has demanded an explanation from his ministry officials about the controversy regarding an apparent lack of proper vetting of those who were selected for the Surrey Police Board.”
However, the ministry tells The VOICE: “A comprehensive vetting process did take place for all members of the Surrey Police Board. There is no connection to the resignation of ADM Butterworth-Carr. ADM Butterworth-Carr’s decision to leave her position is solely due to personal and family circumstances.”
Also, Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, said in a statement: “Brenda Butterworth-Carr has been an exceptional leader during her tenure as ADM and Director of Police Services. I am sorry to see Brenda leave the provincial government but I respect her decision to focus on an unanticipated personal and family matter. Since joining the Policing and Security Branch (Spring 2019), she has led the largest police model transition in Canada; changing the core policing model in the province and developing new policing standards. I am proud of the work she has done and we will miss her greatly. I am confident that the Branch will continue its high standard of support for policing and public safety in British Columbia.”
In a letter to her “colleagues” dated December 16, Butterworth-Carr wrote that she is leaving “to focus on personal matters and spend time with my family.” She said: “I am writing to advise you that after thoughtful consideration, I have made the difficult but necessary decision to leave the Provincial Government, and my role as Assistant Deputy Minister and Director of Police Services, early in the New Year to focus on personal matter and spend time with my family.”
She added: “Over the next few weeks, plans for the transition to a new ADM and Director of Police Services will be confirmed, and this information will be shared with you as soon as it is available.”