Surrey’s top cop says he hopes to be brought into conversations in the coming weeks and months as the City of Surrey moves to a municipal police force.
Assistant Commission Brian Edwards says the “situation is discouraging” following the province’s final approval for the Surrey police force.
“We respect that every municipality has the right to choose what type of police force they want for their city,” Edwards said in an emailed statement Thursday afternoon (Feb. 27).
“But that is not to say this is not difficult for us. Given the nature of the work we do in the community, we are heavily invested in Surrey and its residents. This situation is discouraging for our members who enjoy policing this community and, in particular, for those who live in Surrey and raise their families here.”
Edwards said that while he hasn’t seen the report done by the transition committee, he hopes to “be brought into those conversations.”
“I have not seen the report done by the Provincial Municipal Policing Transition Study Committee, so I cannot comment on the process ahead, timeline, or policing structure during a transition,” he said. “I hope to be brought into those conversations in the weeks and months ahead so I can ensure the safety of Surrey residents and the wellbeing of members and employees throughout this process.”
Edwards added that “while there is still a long road ahead,’ he wanted to thank the “thousands of local citizens who have shown their support for the great work being done by the Surrey RCMP.”
“There is no denying that we have deep connection with this community, and that is a significant part of what motivates us in our work every day.”
Earlier in the day, Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum spoke to the media following Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth’s approval for the City of Surrey to start a police board.
Asked if he had a message to Surrey RCMP officers, McCallum said: “I’ve lived in Surrey probably close to 50 years. I think they’ve done a great job. I’ve said that many times.
“They’ve done a great job. The reason we’re changing is that our growth has taken us beyond the ability for the RCMP to do it and we’re the last big city in Canada that hasn’t moved over to our own police force,” he said. “But for the men and women that have worked in Surrey and the RCMP, they’ve done a super job for this city. I congratulate them… I thank them for their service in Surrey.”
As for the switch to a municipal force, McCallum said Surrey residents want their police officers “to be out on our streets more often, walking on our streets.”
“Many of them, the reason that we will have a lot apply is because the families live here,” said McCallum. “Surrey’s a great place to bring up families and they want to be in a community that they work in. That’s why we’re going to see a lot of officers want to be in our force because they’re part of our community, so they want to work in the communities that they live in.
“I think when you look at successful police departments around the world, which we have done by the way, you’ll find that… the ones that want to have a very safe city often live within the city. They work very hard to make sure our city overall (is safe). Most of the time, they stay for their full careers and that’s a huge advantage.”
McCallum said there’s already been “quite a bit of interest” in people wishing to apply for the Surrey Police Department. He added that people from Calgary, Edmonton, Ontario and the Maritimes have shown interest.
“Surrey is, as you all know, the fastest-growing community certainly in B.C. People want to live here. We always used to say we’re growing at 1,000 people per month.”