British Columbia

Surrey mayor puts the car before the force as he pushes new policing plan

Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum brought a prop along with him to his state of the city address Tuesday morning.

Mayor Doug McCallum wants to replace the Surrey RCMP with a municipal police force in 2 years

Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum stands near a mock-up of a Surrey city police vehicle during his state of the city address in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, May 7, 2019. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum brought a prop along with him to his state of the city address Tuesday morning.

A blue, white and yellow police cruiser with the words, Surrey Police, written on the door in block letters was parked in front of the hotel where McCallum was speaking.

The car made it clear from the outset that much of McCallum's speech would be dedicated to his campaign promise to replace the Surrey RCMP with the city's own police force.

"There is no question that the policing transition is a political minefield," he told the crowd. "I would argue that's the main reason no previous councils have attempted it before, no politician wants to be on the hook for the initial cost or draw the attention of the critics."

McCallum speaks with reporters after delivering his state of the city address. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Critics

McCallum expects a municipal police force will be about 10 per cent more expensive than keeping the RCMP but few details about the transition have been made public.

A report that will outline how much the transition will cost, staffing levels, timelines and all other relevant information is expected to be completed in the coming days.

Jack Hundial, who spent 25 years as a Surrey RCMP officer before he ran for council as part of McCallum's Safe Surrey Coalition, says he's disappointed that he hasn't had more input.

"I'm extremely frustrated," he said. "One of the reasons I ran was to take my 25 years of policing experience here in Surrey and apply it to make Surrey safer… Certainly, I have not had that opportunity."

McCallum says replacing the RCMP with a municipal force will bring greater accountability to policing in the city. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Policing report

When the report is completed, council will get to review it and then it will be sent to B.C. Solicitor General Mike Farnworth for approval.

"We need to see a policing plan and we will go from there," Farnworth said. "I have not seen anything."

There is still no word on when the report will be made public or how much of the information it contains will be withheld.

"From the city's point of view, we don't have any problem with it being released to the public, but the province has the final say on it," McCallum said.

"It will be up to the province to determine how much of the report goes out. I suspect it will be some very detailed operating parts to it and I suspect those operating parts won't be released to the public."

Linda Annis, the lone member of council who isn't part of the Safe Surrey Coalition, says the process should be more transparent.

"I think it's much better to ask people before the report goes to Victoria," she said.

"I think everyone in the City of Surrey has the right to know how it's going to make them feel safer and at what cost."

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