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National Police Federation slams B.C. over Surrey policing transition

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Their job is to keep Surrey’s streets safe – but their future employment remains tangled up in politics.

“It’s unfortunate that policing in the City of Surrey and the province of B.C. has become politicized,” said Brian Sauvé, president of the National Police Federation.

The NPF, which is the largest police union in Canada, representing more than 20,000 RCMP officers, is slamming the provincial government.

Sauve said, “This is just an example of how not to do a police transition.”

The federation is accusing B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth of “misleading” statements, and demanding to know details of the transition plan that will see the Surrey Police Service replace the RCMP.

“We’ve been asking the province for a long time for that plan. So, if there is one, which the minister alluded to, where is it? What is it? And can we help you get there?” asked Sauve.

“We’ve asked for numerous meetings with the ministry since this transition started and we have had radio silence,” he said.

But Farnworth said in the legislature Thursday that he’s made no misleading statements, and there’s no question “when it comes to Surrey, and in fact policing and the structure of policing in British Columbia” that the province has the final say.

Earlier this week, Surrey rejected the B.C. government’s offer of financial help – to the tune of up to $250 million – with the transition to the SPS.

“The package the City of Surrey rejected was not about whether the transition should continue. That decision’s been made,” Farnworth said.

CTV News has repeatedly asked Mayor Brenda Locke for an interview on the reasons behind the refusal, but so far she has been unavailable.

However, a city spokesperson said a major stumbling block for Surrey is that the city has not seen a transition plan.

“The City of Surrey has maintained the position that it needs a plan. It needs a transition plan. It needs to find out, for example, can RCMP officers continue to work for the Surrey Police Service board? That is highly unlikely, but that is necessary if this transition were ever to take place,” said Peter German, a consultant for Surrey.

He said there are no markers in terms of deadlines for the transition and too many unanswered questions about how the transition would unfold.

“If you end up in a scenario where you have two police chiefs – if that’s what’s contemplated, that the RCMP cover part of Surrey and the Surrey police Service covers another part of Surrey – I mean, does that make any sense?” German asked.

Meanwhile, the NPF has called the work environment for RCMP members in Surrey “unstable.”

“We’ve heard loud and clear from our members in Surrey that they are apprehensive about working under the command of the Surrey Police Service,” said Sauve.

Farnworth has promised that more details on the transition plan for Surrey will be revealed next week. 

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