British Columbia

Province appoints 7 people to Surrey's first police board

Ahead of the City of Surrey’s transition from the RCMP to a municipal force, the province has named seven people to sit on the city’s police board.

The National Police Federation says board needs to address unanswered question about transition plan

A smiling white man in a dark-blue suit stands beside an SUV emblazoned with the words "Surrey police."
Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum stands near a mock-up of a Surrey city police vehicle during his state of the city address last May. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

As the City of Surrey prepares to transition from the RCMP to a municipal force, the province has named seven people to sit on the city's first municipal police board.

The new police board members join Mayor Doug McCallum, as well as Bob Rolls, a retired Vancouver police deputy chief constable who was previously appointed by Surrey city council to complete the nine-person board.

The board is responsible for oversight of the new Surrey Police Department.

The province announced Monday the new members are:

  • Chief Harley Chappell, elected chief of the Semiahmoo First Nation.
  • Cheney Cloke, director, Fraser Health Authority.
  • Elizabeth Model, CEO, Downtown Surrey Business Improvement Association.
  • James Carwana, mediator and arbitrator.
  • Jaspreet Sunner, lawyer and labour relations representative, Hospital Employees' Union.
  • Manav Gill, manager, clinical operations, Fraser Health Authority.
  • Meena Brisard, regional director, Canadian Union of Public Employees.

"Today's milestone is an important one," McCallum said at a news conference Monday afternoon.

"With the Surrey Police Board now in place, we can start in earnest the critical work ahead that will set the foundation for a new, innovative, modern and proactive police service that is tailor made for Surrey."

The province said in a statement it chose the new members "following an extensive assessment and screening process" that aimed to balance skills and attributes, as well as reflect the diversity of Surrey.

A police officer with his RCMP shoulder badge pictured.
The board members will serve for an initial 12- to 18-month term. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

The police board will provide financial oversight to the department, help establish policies and manage complaints against the department.

Board members will serve for an initial 12- to 18-month term.

Surrey city council voted unanimously in 2018 to end its contract with the RCMP and transition to a municipal force.

The city has previously estimated the transition will cost $19 million. McCallum, who campaigned and won on the plan to replace the RCMP with a municipal force, has pledged to have Surrey Police Department patrols begin in April 2021.

McCallum also took a moment to recognize all the members of the Surrey RCMP.

"I want to sincerely thank all the RCMP members who serve in our city and who have helped to build what was once a farming community into the metropolitan area that Surrey is today," he said.

Surrey RCMP not involved in transition plan

The assistant commissioner of the Surrey RCMP, Brian Edwards, says today's announcement didn't come as a surprise, adding he's looking forward to hearing the details and timeline on how the transition will be carried out.

Edwards says the RCMP has no say in the decision-making process for the transition plan.

"However, we do have a role in this community," he said in a statement.

"We police Surrey with passion, skill and experience, and we have many strong partnerships here that have been developed over many decades. We will continue to police Surrey with pride for as long as we are contracted to do so."

National Police Federation calls for answers

However, not everyone is thrilled with McCallum's transition plan

The National Police Federation (NPF) says the newly formed Surrey Police Board needs to take immediate action to "finally address key unanswered questions" about McCallum's transition plan.

"Ever since the transition was announced, members of the public have been left in the dark about the true cost of the plan, as well as key details that could have a serious impact on public safety in Surrey," Brian Sauvé, president of the NPF, said in a statement.

Brian Sauvé, president of the National Police Federation, says the board needs to answer questions about the cost of the transition plan. (CBC)

Sauvé said the board is now publicly accountable and needs to answer questions that McCallum and his team continue to dodge.

The NPF is also looking for answers about what public services are being cut by the city to pay for the plan, how the board intends to recruit staff, and how the new force will impact the officer training program at the Justice Institute of B.C. that is already stretched thin, among other concerns. 

"The decision by the provincial government to appoint members of the Surrey Police Board does not bind the provincial government to Surrey's police transition," added Sauvé.

"Surrey has a number of critical unaddressed hurdles ahead of it on this transition, meaning the proposed April 2021 in-service goal is very much in question."