British Columbia

'Not an easy decision:' Officer in charge of Surrey RCMP leaving the local force

Assistant Commissioner Dwayne McDonald said his views on Surrey's ongoing transition to a municipal police force did not factor into his decision to take a new job at RCMP E Division.

Assistant Commissioner Dwayne McDonald has been in the role since 2016

Surrey RCMP's officer in charge, Assistant Commissioner Dwayne McDonald, pictured in late 2018. (Jon Hernandez/CBC)

The officer in charge of the Surrey RCMP is leaving his job with the local force.

Mounties confirmed Assistant Commissioner Dwayne McDonald's decision on Wednesday, saying he was chosen to become the RCMP's criminal operations officer in charge of federal and organized crime investigations for the province of B.C.

McDonald said it's a decision he didn't take lightly. The move comes at a challenging time for the country's largest RCMP detachment, as Surrey is transitioning to a municipal police force.

"I have to admit this was not an easy decision for me. I love policing in this city," he said.

"I'm very mindful that some may view my departure as a harbinger of policing transition ... I want to ensure you this is unequivocally not the case."

Assistant Commissioner Dwayne McDonald, the officer in charge of the Surrey RCMP, pictured on Sept. 4, 2018. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

The city aims to complete the switch by 2021. Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum successfully campaigned in 2018 on a promise to replace the RCMP with an independent force, though the issue has created discord within city council and residents since.

While McDonald has been known to openly disagree with the mayor's plan, he said his views on the transition played no role in his decision to leave and he is confident the police force is in good hands.

"I have no issues with the mayor," he said. "Sometimes we have differences of opinion, like I do with many people."

RCMP Deputy Commissioner Jennifer Strachan said in a statement the City of Surrey and local RCMP "are fully engaged" in finding a replacement for McDonald "as soon as possible, to ensure the least amount of disruption to members, staff and the community."

McDonald has been an RCMP officer for more than 30 years and stepped into the police chief role with Surrey RCMP in 2016.

He has worked with the Gang Task Force, Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit B.C. (CFSEU-BC) and the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team. He is expected to stay in his current role in the city until a successor is chosen.

With files from Jesse Johnston and Gian-Paolo Mendoza

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