RCMP commissioner slams B.C. gov’t over Surrey police transition

There is yet another development in the ongoing fight surrounding the transition to a municipal police service in Surrey.

In a scathing letter addressed to Solicitor General Mike Farnworth, the commissioner of the RCMP says he was surprised to hear last week that the province had an agreement in principle that the RCMP would support the Surrey Police Service (SPS) as the police of jurisdiction.

Commissioner Mike Duheme says that’s not true and there is no agreement.

“… thereby implying a ‘Red under Blue’ scenario,” the letter read.

He says under federal law, members of the RCMP don’t have to support the transition.

“Federal legislation and Governor in Council agreements for provincial and municipal police services do not provide authority to require, on a non-voluntary basis, RCMP members to work under the command of another police service to support a transition to a new municipal police service,” explained Duheme.

He says, “Significant work remains to confirm the parameters of any required RCMP assistance.”

Duheme says this is also leaving dozens of SPS officers in the lurch.

“The absence of a valid Assignment Agreement is a critical gap for the RCMP. Without one, there are approximately 180 SPS officers in the Surrey RCMP detachment with no clear authority to deliver services on behalf of the RCMP at this time. This presents significant ongoing operational and legal risks for the RCMP,” he stressed in the letter.

The RCMP says that “finding a solution is critical.”

“Please rest assured that my team and I are committed to providing a healthy, safe and respectful workplace. I think it is important to acknowledge that the transition has been challenging for those in the Surrey detachment, both RCMP and SPS personnel. The environment is highly charged, and morale is impacted.”

Duheme says he and his team are working to figure things out as this saga plays out publicly.

Last week, the National Police Federation (NPF), which represents frontline Mounties, said Farnworth is incorrect to suggest members of the Surrey RCMP will work under the command of the SPS.

President and CEO Brian Sauvé stated the NPF is “disappointed” to see Farnworth “once again mislead the public on policing in Surrey.”

The idea of the SPS was brought forward back in 2018 by then-Surrey mayor Doug McCallum. Current Mayor Brenda Locke is adamantly against it and was swept into office on the promise to keep the RCMP.

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