British Columbia

Surrey police force would likely take 4 years to set up, not 2, says former Delta chief

A former police chief who has advised Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum about transitioning local RCMP to a municipal force says the move could take longer than the mayor plans.

Jim Cessford says transition would likely take 4 years, not 2, as Surrey mayor projects

There are about 835 RCMP officers at the Surrey detachment, making it the largest in Canada. (Shane MacKichan)

A former police chief who has advised Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum about transitioning local RCMP to a municipal force says the move could take longer than the mayor plans.

Following up on one of his primary campaign promises, McCallum has said he believes a Surrey police force could be up and running by the beginning of 2021.

Jim Cessford, who spent 20 years as Delta's police chief, said he has a team that could oversee that transition — but that establishing the municipal force would likely take up to four years.

Cessford said McCallum did not formally ask him to lead the transition, but that the two did meet to discuss strategies for how it could proceed.

"I'm not looking for a job, but if it's going to mean that we can make the community safer and it's going to discourage some of the criminal activity, then I'm all for that and I'll do whatever I can," Cessford said.

Jim Cessford spent 20 years as Delta's police chief. (Jesse Johnston/CBC)

District-by-district approach

Cessford recommends an approach where Surrey's police force could take over one district at a time, starting in communities with low crime rates, and gradually moving into areas where crime is more prevalent.

"I think to establish and take over one or two quadrants — possibly three quadrants — I think you can probably do that in a two-year time frame," he said.

"What's critical to all of this is Surrey needs a plan. They need to have a transition plan, they need to tell the community why they're doing this and what this is going to look like."

There are 835 RCMP officers in Surrey, and all of them will need to be replaced when an independent police force is created. 

McCallum said about 50 per cent of Surrey officers have indicated they would leave the RCMP and go with the new local force, with the rest coming from other Metro Vancouver police forces.

With files from Jesse Johnston

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