Statement from the Mayor: Update on Policing in Surrey
The RCMP has effectively policed this City since 1950. Their commitment and work to ensure public safety has never been an issue - not four years ago and not now. Surrey Council and I also have complete confidence in the Surrey RCMP and Surrey Police Service members currently policing Surrey. Under very trying circumstances, they have all continued to put their lives on the line to keep the rest of us safe. And they have done exceptional work. I want to thank each and every one of them. They are all welcome to continue policing in Surrey.
I also know that both RCMP and Surrey Police Service members deserve a final answer so they can turn the page on uncertainty and focus on their future and careers. Today they will have clarity. But the return to normalcy will take time, commitment and professionalism. The citizens of Surrey know that the police are all up to that challenge despite the emotions today's decision will evoke among some. Similarly, the City of Surrey, the Province, the Surrey Police Service, the Surrey Police Service Board and the RCMP must all show the same qualities, as we work together to achieve a single and effective policing model in Surrey. That spirit of co-operative policing will have to carry on for some time.
Surrey needs a final answer on policing and Surrey Council has decided, with a vote held yesterday, to retain the RCMP as our police force of jurisdiction. There is no question the decision on policing in Surrey rests with Surrey Council. The Premier and Solicitor General have confirmed this fact. Surrey Council and I were committed to making an informed decision. We signed the non-disclosure agreement with the Province and have reviewed the Ministry report and requirements, thoroughly. We asked our City staff to prepare a report supplementing the information within the Ministry's report. It includes up-to-date financial information in terms of the transition costs to date on both policing options. As Council, we had a duty to examine both sides. The impacts of continuing with the transition are incredibly significant and had to be considered. Our report did exactly that and helped inform our resolve. Politicians and senior police leaders must commit to faithfully support the dedicated police officers on the streets of this City during the coming months.
The Solicitor General has imposed a number of binding conditions on the City, which we fully intend to meet, however we require the cooperation of the Province to do so. Yesterday I spoke with both the Premier and the Solicitor General and am satisfied that they are prepared to work in the spirit of cooperation. Surrey Council and I want to stress the importance of working with the Provincial Government. It helps our City and our Province. As the Mayor of Surrey and the one that oversees this policing contract, I have very high expectations of the RCMP. I spoke at length with the RCMP Commanding Officer for British Columbia and the Officer in Charge of Surrey Detachment, and both have assured me they can, will and are already in the process of meeting the obligations that this dissolution of the Surrey Police Service places upon them.
The City of Surrey has unlimited potential for growth in the years to come and this is not just an opportunity to work closely with the Province but a joint obligation to work cooperatively to build both a strong city and a strong British Columbia. I want to thank the Premier for his efforts and commitment to working with Surrey on policing and other critical initiatives in our City.
I know the controlled dissolution of the Surrey Police Service will be challenging for the Police Board, the Chief and all Surrey Police Service employees both sworn and civilian who care so deeply for this city and their organization. I have communicated to the Surrey Police Board and Surrey Police Service Chief the results of this final vote on policing in Surrey. Surrey Council will work with the Province, the Police Board, the Surrey Police Service Chief and the RCMP as we return to full RCMP staffing levels. Full HR staffing plans for both police agencies during the Surrey Police Service withdrawal will be set out as per the Ministry’s binding conditions.
I respect the Surrey Police Service passion for the City of Surrey and I want to provide every opportunity for them to carry on their important and meaningful contributions here in the City of Surrey in whatever role they may seek, even though the Surrey Police Service itself will not continue.
Now that the political delays are over, we can all work together on what brought us here, which is to sustain and strengthen the exemplary level of public safety in Surrey.
Mayor Brenda Locke