Surrey's top Mountie weighs in on city's plan for municipal police force
VANCOUVER -- A day after the province gave the City of Surrey a green light to oust the RCMP and replace it with a local police force, the city's top Mountie is weighing in. But there's only so much he can say because he hasn't been told some of the report's key details.
"I haven't yet had the opportunity to see the plan,” said Surrey RCMP Assistant Commissioner Brian Edwards.
The city's new municipal force is supposed to take over in a year, but Surrey’s top cop hasn't had access to the report that lays out those plans.
"I hope to get eyes on that report soon because that's what's going to allow me to make an analysis of what the next steps will be,” Edwards told CTV News.
That includes the future of his staff, the majority of whom live in Surrey.
"Very strong connection with the community in Surrey, within the detachment,” said Edwards. “Seeing the dissolving of those relationships can be hard on people,” he added.
Surrey RCMP employs more than 1,200 people: 843 police officers, 302 municipal full-time staff, and 120 auxiliary municipal staff, and all of their futures are now uncertain. The B.C. government approved the creation of a Surrey Police Board, which will create and oversee the city's new municipal police force this week.
Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum shared the news on Thursday calling it "day one for the Surrey Police Department." Once established, the board will be able to begin hiring police and civilian employees. It will also be responsible for financial oversight of the department.
The cost of the transition has not been revealed but will be more than the RCMP, according to Wally Oppal, the chair of the joint municipal provincial transition committee. Surrey's five-year budget has earmarked $129.6 million toward the transition. McCallum is adamant the local force will make Surrey safer. In response to that, Edwards said "that'll remain to be seen."
In the meantime, the Mountie said his officers will continue to deliver the same level of service they have all along.
"We'll remain completely invested in the safety of that community, and we're not going to take our foot off the gas pedal,” Edwards told CTV News.
The 450-page transition report could be available to the public as early as Tuesday. Edwards said he hasn’t been told whether RCMP will get a copy ahead of time.
McCallum has promised to have boots on the ground by April 1, 2021.