Surrey's new top cop says RCMP still has public support during transition to local police force
Brian Edwards says he's confident about RCMP's ability to fight crime in Surrey
The recently appointed top RCMP officer in Surrey, B.C., says he feels confident about his new role despite the city's looming shift to a municipal police force.
Assistant Commissioner Brian Edwards started his job four weeks ago with Surrey RCMP. Edwards, who lives in nearby White Rock, says he jumped at the opportunity when it first came up.
"It's such a vibrant, energetic city," Edwards said in an interview Friday morning with The Early Edition host Stephen Quinn on CBC Radio One.
"There are challenges. Yet despite all of that I see the commitment to the community from my people, and I just couldn't be more proud of them."
In 2018, Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum campaigned on a promise to close Surrey's RCMP detachment and create a municipal police force, a move the province approved last August.
Many in the community believe this approach will better protect them from ongoing gang violence in Surrey, a rapidly growing Lower Mainland city south of the Fraser River that gains up to 1,000 new residents every month.
Edwards says it's not within his purview to tell McCallum and city officials how to move forward with policing. But he emphasized that his members are adequately protecting the city.
"I'm confident in the service that we are providing to the citizens of Surrey," he said. "And we have strong public support."
Grew up in Calgary
Edwards grew up in Calgary, Alta., where he worked as a summer student for the RCMP. He says he had always been drawn to policing and the opportunity to work directly with the community.
It was there that he earned a law degree and a masters in linguistics. He worked for the Calgary Police Force for eight years and moved to the RCMP in 2003.
Edwards says he enjoyed his time as a municipal officer, but he's not looking to switch over to Surrey's new police force.
"I've been treated very well in the RCMP," Edwards said. "That's the choice that I've made and I'll stick with that choice till the time I'm done."
Reaching out to kids
Surrey has its challenges, he admits.
Edwards thinks the city's youthful demographic, combined with the illegal drug and firearm trade, have contributed to violent crime in the area.
But Edwards points out that those issues are common throughout the Lower Mainland, and his members are addressing them with the help of the Gang Enforcement Team and the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit.
He also thinks events like the Surrey Basketball Classic tournament he recently attended can make a big difference to prevent crime.
"I don't want to understate the importance of those community programs in reaching out to kids," he said.