A Cloverdale woman with a particularly vested interest in the state of policing in Surrey is giving a failing grade to the city’s public consultation process concerning its transition plan.
Darlene Bennett, whose husband Paul, 47, was shot dead in the driveway of their Cloverdale home on June 23, 2018, is concerned what impact, if any, the transition from RCMP to a city force will have on the Integrated Homicide Team’s investigation into his unsolved murder.
“I’m at a loss, I don’t know what is going on,” Bennett told the Now-Leader. “I don’t know what’s going to happen to all those integrated teams. It’s frustrating, it’s not fair.”
Council at its inaugural meeting on Nov. 5, 2018 served notice to the provincial and federal governments Surrey is ending its contract with the RCMP – which has policed here since May 1, 1951 – to set up its own force. After sending the transition report to Mike Farnworth, B.C.’s minister of public safety and solicitor general, for review last week, the city is now staging a series of community consultation sessions on the plan.
Bennett attended the first session, held on Thursday, May 23, at the Cloverdale Recreation Centre.
“I was so angry when I got home,” Bennett told the Now-Leader.
“I didn’t find it useful – I was expecting more information and it wasn’t anything more than what they have on their little website there.
The second session is set Wednesday May 29, from 3 to 7 p.m. at Fleetwood Community Centre.
“He deserves justice,” Bennett said of her late husband. “I’m not getting any information from the mayor on what’s going to happen with the transition.
“I think if people are informed and they’re given information you can make decisions, right? It’s the secrecy, it’s not knowing, and I think that’s the thing that is making me angry is that there’s no transparency. This is a huge change for Surrey and I think it involves every single person that lives here, and they should have a voice.”
Bennett noted her husband was killed in “a case of mistaken identity – how horrendous is that?
“To be brutally murdered for doing nothing more than having a similar appearance to the person these criminals were after. My family’s safety is at the forefront and my greatest concern. If this could happen to Paul, then it could happen to anyone. No one is safe. I have been waiting patiently for the information on the mayor’s police transition plan to come forward, but to no avail. I have reached an impasse.
“I am angry, disappointed and alarmed with the mayor of Surrey, Doug McCallum. His lack of transparency regarding the transition to a Surrey Police force from the RCMP is disheartening.”
The third consultation session will be June 1, from noon to 5 p.m., at the Chuck Bailey Recreation Centre, followed by others at the Surrey Sport and Leisure Complex (June 5, from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.), Bridgeview Community Centre (June 8, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and South Surrey Recreation and Arts Centre (June 15, from noon to 5 p.m.).
There will also be pop-up kiosks at Central City Shopping Centre on May 31 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., at the Bear Creek Pavilion on June 7 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., and at the Guildford Recreation Centre on June 28, between 3 p.m. and 8 p.m.