COLUMN: Policing report lacks discussion of divide among Surrey citizens

Oppal’s experience could have been a benefit in deeper discussion

The Surrey Policing Transition report produced by a committee under the direction of Wally Oppal is a masterful and detailed look at how to transition from Surrey RCMP to Surrey Police.

Oppal, former attorney general, former B.C. Supreme Court judge and a well-respected expert due to his grasp of many details of policing, certainly covered bases that needed covering. These include: recruitment, pensions and collective agreement, training, information management and information technology, investigative file continuity and business impacts.

All of these are essential if a new Surrey Police force is to have any chance of succeeding. It must have enough officers, they must be well-trained and they must be satisfied with their wages, pensions and working conditions. There also must be a proper approach to ensuring that case files do not fall through the cracks when the new police agency takes over from the RCMP. There must be top-notch information systems. There must also be a commitment to working on files in the regional context, as Surrey RCMP and most police agencies in the Lower Mainland already do.

Oppal’s report states: “The City of Surrey has long applied a best practices approach to addressing public safety priorities.”

This is certainly true of Surrey staff. They are professional and have been involved in many innovations to try and improve public safety.

Yet the report has a glaring omission. This may have been unavoidable, given the terms of reference laid down by Solicitor General Mike Farnworth. The report notes: “Other issues related to the establishment and operation of this department were outside the scope of this report.”

What’s missing? Simply this – any discussion of the deep divide among Surrey citizens over the need for this very expensive change, or of the dictatorial style of Mayor Doug McCallum in the months after the November, 2018 decision by council to move to a Surrey police department.

Had Oppal been given a fuller mandate, he could have made recommendations on how to bridge this political divide. He has the experience to do so, as a former judge and elected politician. This would have ensured that the establishment of this police force would be far less political.

Citizens who are dismayed about the way this whole transition has been managed thus far need to keep the pressure on the provincial government, and particularly on Farnworth and the six Surrey NDP MLAs. Pressure needs to come from those who oppose removing the RCMP from Surrey, as well as from those who favour a new Surrey Police, but deplore the politicization of the issue.

If the roll-out of the new department continues to be as highly political and divisive as it has been thus far, with no consultation of either citizens or of the four council members who now oppose the transition, the new police force will start doing business with an essential element missing – respect. Policing is built on trust. If that is missing, there will be little chance of Surrey Police succeeding.

Frank Bucholtz writes weekly for Peace Arch News, as well as at frankbucholtz.blogspot.ca

Column

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

Just Posted

First Police Board meeting Thursday a ‘pivotal moment’ in Surrey’s history, mayor says

The 10 a.m. “virtual” meeting Aug. 6 will be live-streamed and details on tuning in will be available at surrey.ca/policeboard

BC ACORN report calls on Surrey to help renters

Report contains steps on how the City of Surrey can “ease” the city’s housing crisis

Keno machine shutdown was no tech glitch, it was $50K prize for Surrey woman

Ticket checked at the Panorama Shell store in Surrey

Parking facility for 100 trucks coming to North Surrey at cost of $30M

‘It’s often difficult to find suitable parking for large transport trucks,’ says association boss

B.C. records 146 new COVID-19 cases through long weekend

More that 28 people tested positive for the virus each day since Friday

Canucks tame Minnesota Wild 4-3 to even NHL qualifying series

J.T. Miller leads Vancouver with goal and an assist

COVID-19 vaccine efforts provide hope but no silver bullet to stop pandemic: Tam

There are more than two dozen vaccines for COVID-19 in clinical trials around the world

Staff member tests positive for COVID-19 at Maple Ridge Seniors Village

Fraser Health is on site implementing outbreak protocols at the seniors care facility

Two people die in propane heated outdoor shower near Princeton

Couple was attending a long weekend gathering

Study shines light on what makes LGBTQ+ youth feel safe in a community

The study goes beyond looking at school or family supports

Alberta to require masks at schools this fall, but still no mandate in B.C.

B.C. students are also set to return to classrooms in September

Gangster Jarrod Bacon released from prison for third time

Parole board continues to express concerns about Bacon’s behaviour

B.C. to allow customers to buy cannabis online for in-store pickup at private shops

Age verification will still be required inside the store

Most Read

l -->