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Surrey MLA Sturko chides ‘no plan’ Farnworth

‘He is unable to tell Surrey residents what policing in Surrey will look like in six months,’ Elenore Sturko charges
Surrey Police Service patch from Twitter/ Surrey RCMP by Anna Burns

South Surrey MLA Elenore Sturko says Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth is unable to tell Surrey residents what policing in their city will look like in six months.

“What I think it’s important to note here is that six months from changing the police of jurisdiction there is no plan that the minister can share,” the BC United MLA told the Now-Leader following a lengthy exchange between the two Monday afternoon (May 13) in the Legislative Assembly, concerning budget estimates of the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General.

“He is unable to tell Surrey residents what policing in Surrey will look like in six months,” she said. “It’s also clear that the minister decided the police of jurisdiction date without identifying all the work that will need to be completed and without consulting the RCMP.”

In April Farnworth staged a presser to declare that the Surrey Police Service will replace the RCMP as the city’s police of jurisdiction on Nov. 29, 2024 and the transition will be complete within two to two-and-a-half years.

Sturko asked Farnworth to clarify how the RCMP will provide transitional support to the SPS after it becomes police of jurisdiction, to which the minister replied his ministry, Public Safety Canada and the RCMP are currently determining what supports will be needed.

She then asked if it’s fair to say the details haven’t yet been determined, to which Farnworth replied that “right from the get-go” critical components were identified, among these establishing the police board, building the SPS, hiring the chief constable, SPS executive team, management and staff, acquiring assets, developing contracts and policies, transferring equipment, files, exhibits and audits and arranging for “enhanced First Nations policing services” to Semiahmoo First Nation.

“Both policing agencies are working collaboratively on all of those particular items,” he said. Sturko then asked for a breakdown of what’s completed and what’s not.

“I can’t give you a breakdown on each individual component,” Farnworth replied.

Sturko remarked that there aren’t any frameworks or agreements in place “for everything that would be required to make the November date successful.”

Farnworth told Sturko “we’re working together in a collaborative, cooperative fashion to that November 29 date.”

“What I can tell you is that everybody wants certainty. The people of Surrey want certainty; the Surrey Police Service want certainty; the RCMP wants certainty. That’s what the November 29 date does,” Farnworth said. “It has everybody moving to that date, working to that date. That’s what they want. That’s what’s underway.”

Meantime, Surrey city Coun. Doug Elford said Tuesday the City should be involved in the transition plan “and right now we’re not. We’re not cooperating at all with the process, and to blame it on one group or one entity is just cheap politics.”

“What, no plan? Is that what they’re saying, no plan?” he said. “I think it’s imperative the City of Surrey participates in developing the plan. It is our own police force, and there should be cooperation from all levels of government and not just one or two. Because the plan really is based on how do we want to police in our city and it requires cooperation of everybody and right now the City is refusing to cooperate.

“It’s not just one entity that’s required to develop a plan it’s all of us and again by refusing to participate in the process, refusing to put our SPS officers on the payroll, the proper payroll,” Elford said, “it’s just a matter of attempting to drag this out as long as possible at the expense of the citizens of Surrey. I mean, MLA Sturko was an RCMP officer at one time, she should understand this. She knows this, and this is just cheap political shots being taken at the minister.”

About the Author: Tom Zytaruk

I write unvarnished opinion columns and unbiased news reports for the Surrey Now-Leader.
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