The distinguished Mayor of Surrey is undergoing an intense scrutiny with the provincial authority over the vexed question of law enforcement in her jurisdiction. But the said disquietude is not the sole source of her ire.
Mayor Brenda Locke emphatically reported that the city council has yet to behold a roadmap pertaining to the transition from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) to the Surrey Police Service (SPS). Further, she confessed to an eroding trust in the local police board along with the senior-most commander of the SPS.
“There is, at present, no explicit faith upon the Surrey Police Board and the Surrey police chief. We don’t harbor any,” Mayor Locke decried. “Until there is discernible trust and faith from the Surrey police towards the city, I refrain from visualizing a positive transition.”
Upon reaching out, the SPS tactfully redirected the conversation to the police board who, unfortunately, chose to remain silent on the matter at hand.
Compounding these issues, Mayor Locke took pointed aim at Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth who, from her account, has been languishing in a state of inaction in the aftermath of repeated pleas for information. These pleas have been constant since the provincial administration rendered their resolution on Surrey’s law enforcement in July.
An evidently exasperated Mayor Locke confessed to her confusion concerning Minister Farnworth’s decision to reject a plan to retain the RCMP, “The obstacle now is the minister’s response …of which, after six communications, we are still waiting,” said Locke.
Mayor Locke maintained she is in the dark about why the minister sanctioned the SPS, and which direction to aim for next. Adding to her concern, she highlighted the fact that the city is still on stand-by for the provincially promised funds.
Farnworth responded with assurances that a comprehensive answer to Mayor Locke’s letters is imminent. He also reaffirmed the pledge surrounding financial assistance for Surrey’s shift in law enforcement agencies.
“There’s an extraordinary amount of groundwork being done. We have been unambiguous that the allocation of $150 million is at hand. We presented it in the breakdown of $30 million per annum for a span of five years, aggregating to 150…and I’ve personally presented these figures to the mayor,” he stated.
Taking an assertive standpoint, Premier David Eby declared, “Limbo is not the predicament. We are transitioning towards a municipal police force in Surrey.” He further pledged to equip Surrey with the requisite resources for the successful execution of this transition.
In the present week, a further 11 experienced officers from the SPS are being engaged to collaborate with Surrey’s RCMP in frontline law enforcement activities. This precedes the July enlistment of 16 SPS officers. Thus far, 246 SPS officers have partaken in the city’s patrol duties.
The fiscal toll of maintaining both the RCMP and SPS in Surrey is reported to exceed $8 million per month.