Surrey RCMP officers can’t work under SPS without consent, National Police Federation says

Another wrench is being thrown into the B.C. government’s plans to transition away from the RCMP to a municipal police force in Surrey.

In an open letter, the National Police Federation, which represents frontline Mounties, says that Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth is incorrect to suggest members of the Surrey RCMP will work under the command of the Surrey Police Service.

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

“The Minister infers that Members of the Surrey RCMP will work under the command of the Surrey Police Service (SPS) simply at the stroke of a pen. The National Police Federation has explored this issue at length and, to be clear, there is no mechanism to force any Member of the RCMP to work under the command of a municipal police service,” Sauvé said in a statement this week.

“In the absence of legislative change, Members of the RCMP cannot work for the SPS without each Member’s individual, informed consent, and voluntariness.”

Sauvé says NPF union members have “expressed concerns” about working under the command of the SPS.

“We cannot, in good conscience, allow our Members to work in such a politically charged and unstable environment. If this is the Province’s solution, it is ill-informed,” Sauvé continued.

On Tuesday, Farnworth said the province will use $150 million to support the City of Surrey with the police transition “directly until it is completed.”

What exactly that looks like will be further outlined next week, he said. However, he stressed the transition would continue, despite legal challenges and Surrey Mayor Brenda Locke’s continued pushback on the plan.

In a statement Tuesday, Locke remained steadfast in her position, saying the province has “provided no firm financial commitment” to remedy the cost for Surrey taxpayers of transitioning to a police force they “did not vote for.”

The NPF has reached out to the province multiple times for a fulsome transition plan, Sauvé claims. “Should the Province now have a plan, we eagerly await the details of that plan.”

“Our Members and the residents of Surrey deserve better from their political leaders including clear, factual, and evidence-based information on public safety.”