COLUMN: Delays not helping case for Surrey Police Department

Maybe the transition to a Surrey Police force isn’t as high a priority for city staff as it is for Mayor Doug McCallum.

The mayor, who misses no occasion to trumpet the need for a city police force, wasted little time issuing a press release when he arrived back at city hall after a weekend break. This happened on Monday (Sept. 30), after a targeted murder during daylight hours at a Clayton gas station, two days earlier. He said in the press release, “the community believes now, more than ever, that we need to work as quickly as possible to get SPD officers out on the streets.”

Most Surrey residents are well aware that we have a police force – Surrey RCMP. Those who were paying any attention to this latest act of violence also knew that the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) was on the scene soon after police were first called. IHIT is a unit combining members of both the RCMP and municipal forces, and presumably will continue to investigate murders in Surrey if the city ever gets its own police force.

Changing the name and organizational structure of the police force is not going to change the fact that gangsters are busy shooting at each other and killing their rivals (and also some innocent people) on a pretty regular basis in this city. This has been going on for years, and as Black Press Media columnist Tom Zytaruk wrote, it is similar to a movie loop. He referenced the character played by Bill Murray in the well-known movie Groundhog Day, who experiences the same day, and the same events, over and over.

The mayor also expressed in his press release frustration that “bureaucratic red tape” is delaying the transition to a municipal force. Thus, it was quite surprising to hear later in the week that retired Supreme Court judge and former attorney-general Wally Oppal has been forced to cancel two of three scheduled meetings with Surrey staff working on this issue – because of their unavailability.

Oppal was asked by Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth to chair a committee to work through various issues relating to the transition. The province has conditionally approved changing to a Surrey Police force, but only after a number of issues, including training and staffing, can be worked through by the committee.

Oppal said the committee was able to hold its first meeting, but city staff’s inability to attend the next two led to their cancellation. He has offered to hold meetings in Surrey if that is more convenient. Clearly, he is ready to get to work on the issue.

What’s the problem with city staff? McCallum is not part of the committee, so he is not the direct cause of the cancellations. Are they not attending on his orders? Or are they so busy with other matters that the committee is low on the priority list?

Oppal said of the staff members, “They are highly qualified people. Everybody who’s in the room is operating in good faith, so I’m not suggesting anything untoward when I say the Surrey team postponed the meetings, they may have had legitimate reasons for doing that.”

Oppal said the plan to have a Surrey Police force in place by 2021 is still in place, but in order to get to that point, a lot of work has to be done.

If McCallum is truly concerned, he should do his utmost to ensure that these meetings go ahead on a timely basis.

Frank Bucholtz writes Wednesdays for Peace Arch News, as well as at

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

UPDATE: Pedestrian dies after being hit by bus in uptown White Rock

Collision occurred July 3 at North Bluff Road and Johnston Road

PHOTOS: South Surrey tractor project evokes ‘$1-million smile,’ helps connect neighbours

Retired Surrey firefighter Ron Henze began project for friend’s dad to fill time during pandemic

Intent of killing at centre of Surrey man’s West Kelowna murder trial

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Allison Beames is anticipated to return with her decision in August

Surrey man facing charges related to child pornography

Elazar Reshef, 52, has worked in the Delta School District

COVID-19: Update on the pandemic in Surrey, White Rock and beyond

JULY 3: Pandemic project evokes smiles, connects neighbours

13 new B.C. COVID-19 cases, Langley Lodge outbreak ends

Health care outbreaks down to four, 162 cases active

Greater Vancouver home sales start to tick up, with prices holding steady

Residential sales last month reached 2,443, a 64.5 per cent jump from May

Langley Lodge’s deadly outbreak declared over

Fraser Health and long-term care home administrator confirm Friday declaration

Alberta health minister orders review into response after noose found in hospital in 2016

A piece of rope tied into a noose was found taped to the door of an operating room at the Grande Prairie Hospital in 2016

B.C.’s major rivers surge, sparking flood warnings

A persistent low pressure system over Alberta has led to several days of heavy rain

B.C.’s Indigenous rights law faces 2020 implementation deadline

Pipeline projects carry on as B.C. works on UN goals

Search continues for person seen floating in Coquihalla River in Hope

Rescuers halted the search Thursday night as darkness fell

‘Mind boggling’: B.C. man $1 million richer after winning Lotto 6/49 a second time

David O’Brien hopes to use his winnings to travel and of course keep playing the lottery

Most Read

l -->