Digging up the past: Retired high-ranking Surrey RCMP member lashes out against the city's mayor
Al Macintyre is shown in provided images.
SURREY, B.C. -- A year from now, Surrey's mayor expects his city will have its own municipal police force up and running.
But as plans forge ahead to replace the Mounties, the historically bumpy relationship between Doug McCallum and the RCMP is resurfacing – this time, in the form of a letter being circulated on social media.
"We had quite a ride of it back in the day when dealing with him. If the walls could only speak," wrote Al Macintyre, referring to the mayor. Macintyre served both as Surrey RCMP's second-in-command and its acting officer-in-charge between 1999 and 2001, during one of McCallum's earlier terms as mayor.
Among other things, Macintyre's letter accuses McCallum of trying to stop the RCMP from releasing information that might portray the city in an unflattering light back in those days.
"There was the time his office called after a press release was issued about a bad guy that was dangerous to the public peace and told us not to send those out as it made Surrey look bad. We tried to explain the necessity in warning the public and we continued to send them out."
MacIntyre, who spent 39 years on the force, also writes about another incident, although he told CTV News Vancouver he's uncertain of exactly when either of the incidents happened.
"We sent out a press release… that there had been a very bad injury (motor vehicle accident)…. Mayor McCallum called over and asked, what was the purpose in sending out this negative-to-Surrey news release?" wrote MacIntyre.
"It was explained to him that it was to alert motorists via the media that traffic was not moving and to stay clear and pick another route. He hung up."
In a phone interview, Macintyre said, "There was a constant challenge: Why were we putting stuff out that in any way gave Surrey a black eye? ... It was that constant uneasiness, never knowing where the next slap on the side of the head was coming from."
But why bring all of this up now? Particularly since Surrey already has provincial approval for a new municipal police force?
"It's not my intent to cause grief but I think it's important to get my thoughts on experiences out there," he said.
Macintyre said he's considered speaking up in the past but recently read some information that made him feel he needed to respond.
In his letter, MacIntyre said he's heard comments attributed to McCallum stating that he wants police officers who are invested in the community.
"When I was in Surrey I served on local boards of governance, my wife taught in the Surrey School District and our kids went to school in Surrey and later worked in Surrey. When little Heather Thomas was abducted in Cloverdale, where we lived, I was out on my own time looking for her. Is that the connection or investment he was looking for?" MacIntyre wrote.
Speaking to CTV, he added, "I gave my heart and soul to the RCMP and I've always given communities I've been in 100 per cent as have the members I have worked with. But the comments about members not being connected or committed to Surrey I took personally."
He added that "if the RCMP are not good enough for Surrey…and not trained to the way he likes them…why is he so actively and publicly stating that he has received all these applications from RCMP members in Surrey who want to stay?"
CTV reached out to the mayor but an emailed response from his office said McCallum would not be commenting.
Meanwhile, the current Surrey RCMP spokesperson, Cpl. Elenore Sturko, said the media relations unit has not received any pressure to hold back information from the public.
"We haven't made any changes to the way that we are reporting stats. We remain one of the most transparent police forces in the Lower Mainland," Sturko said.
Dianne Watts, a former MP who also served as Surrey's mayor after defeating McCallum back in 2005, said she agrees with what was said in MacIntyre's letter.
"Everything he outlined in that letter was certainly an accurate accounting of what transpired. Back then it was fairly common knowledge of how things were unfolding," she told CTV in a phone interview.
When asked about the timing of the letter, Watts replied, "I think it's just a level of frustration in terms of the way the police are being treated."
"At the end of the day if the city decides to go to a city police force or stay with RCMP, that's one issue, but it's how people are being treated and quite frankly disrespected…and I think that's why there's been a lot of outrage."