The ongoing situation involving the decision to transition to a City Police Service, which was initiated during former Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum's tenure, has been a subject of uncertainty ('will they or won't they').
McCallum had prioritized this transition during his campaign in the municipal election last year. However, he was defeated by Brenda Locke, who was a councillor at the time and is now the mayor. Locke had promised to reverse the transition and retain the RCMP if elected.
BC's Public Safety Minister and Solicitor General, Mike Farnworth, addressed the matter during a news conference on Wednesday, July 19th. He stated that he had carefully reviewed the city's corporate report on returning to the Surrey RCMP, but he expressed concerns about the safety aspect, saying, "The city has failed to demonstrate that moving back to the RCMP will be safe."
Farnworth emphasized that the Surrey Council's decision poses risks to the people, leading him to direct the city of Surrey to proceed with establishing a Surrey Police Service to ensure public safety.
Before the Solicitor General's press conference, Mayor Brenda Locke released a video statement expressing her disappointment in the province's decision, which she deemed misguided and based on inaccurate assumptions. She viewed the move as undermining the duly elected local government and cautioned that it could affect the autonomy of all municipalities in B.C.
To facilitate the establishment of the Surrey Police Service, the province also appointed a strategic implementation advisor. The minister explained that this advisor's role would be to assist all parties involved in meeting deadlines, resolving disputes, and ensuring effective communication throughout the transition process.
Following the province's decision, Surrey Police Service Chief Lipinski released a statement celebrating the news as a positive development for the service's members. He expressed gratitude for the provincial government's support, stating, "We appreciate the provincial government’s reaffirmation that the continuation of Surrey Police Service is in the best interest of public safety in Surrey and across British Columbia. This is undoubtedly great news for our 400 employees and their families, and I believe it will also benefit Surrey residents who will now experience the advantages of having a local police service tailored to their community."