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Safe Surrey Coalition tweet on Dale Culver case was 'divisive and defamatory,' B.C.'s top Mountie says
VANCOUVER -- A Twitter post from the Safe Surrey Coalition accusing B.C. RCMP officers of murder was "unprofessional, divisive and defamatory," according to a scathing letter from the province's top Mountie.
Deputy Commissioner Jennifer Strachan wrote the letter to Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum to address the coalition's tweet, which was linked to a news story about Dale Culver, a Prince George man who died after a struggle with police in 2017.
The now-deleted post read: "Poorly trained RCMP murder a defenceless man and then delete video evidence to cover up their crime."
The Independent Investigations Office, B.C.'s police watchdog, announced Friday it was recommending charges against the officers involved.
In her letter, which was obtained by CTV News, Strachan wrote, “While the most provocative amongst the messages, one that described the RCMP and its members as murderers, was removed, a series of related posts has made their way to our employees. These posts do not sit well with them or me.”
She also thanks the mayor for apologizing on behalf of the Safe Surrey Coalition.
“I appreciate this gesture and thank you for that,” she said.
CTV News has reached out to the mayor for comment on the matter but has not heard back. It’s not clear who posted the tweet.
Two Surrey councillors, who are members of the Safe Surrey Coalition, have told CTV News the tweet was inappropriate.
Meanwhile, Staff Sgt. Janelle Shoihet with RCMP E Division declined an on-camera interview but said in an email to CTV News that the Twitter post was "ill-informed and we are mindful the matter it referenced was and is, subject to independent investigation and assessment.”
"We appreciate that the post has since been deleted and we are dealing with the Safe Surrey Coalition on the issue," Shoihet said.
According to an internal Surrey RCMP message obtained by CTV News, the mayor indicated the tweet came from someone “not authorized” by the Safe Surrey Coalition.
Meanwhile, the National Police Federation is calling for a public apology from McCallum.
“This was a leadership fail by a mayor who was expecting a whole bunch of Surrey RCMP members to transition over to the Surrey police department and if this is how he’s going to treat them, really, he’s lost their confidence,” Brian Sauve said.
Sauve said officers are outraged, with many considering it a cheap shot by a political party determined to get rid of the RCMP.
The post “is libel. It is defamation and it’s unfortunate. And I think the unauthorized person who had access… clearly was out to lunch," he added.
The federation said it is considering legal action against Safe Surrey Coalition and the mayor.