Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum, left and former attorney general Wally Oppal. (Now-Leader file photos)

Policing transition

Politicizing Surrey police transition ‘doesn’t help,’ Wally Oppal says

Head of transition team defends plan’s progress after McCallum decries ‘bureaucratic red tape’

The head of the Surrey police force transition team is denying Mayor Doug McCallum’s claim that “bureaucratic red tape” is delaying work on the plan.

“We’re not going to sacrifice quality for speed,” former attorney general Wally Oppal told the Now-Leader Tuesday.

Oppal’s comments come one day after McCallum issued a statement slamming a so-called “lack of progress” on the transition in the wake of a deadly daytime shooting at a Clayton gas station on Sept. 28.

It has been roughly five weeks since the provincial government gave its approval to Surrey’s plan to transition from RCMP to a municipal force, with Oppal tasked to oversee the transition committee.

“We’ll get it done, but it doesn’t help when these things get politicized. And the Surrey team has postponed twice.”

Oppal said Surrey’s team attended the first meeting of the committee, but cancelled the second and third meetings.

READ MORE: Surrey mayor slams ‘lack of progress’ on new police force in wake of fatal shooting

SEE ALSO: ‘Targeted hit’ leaves man dead at Surrey gas station, police appeal for witnesses

“I had time set aside last Thursday, from 1 to 3, and the week before I had 9 to 12 set aside on Thursday. I’ve told the Surrey team I’ll go out to Surrey. If they want to move this thing expeditiously, I can go out there. So we have this Thursday set aside and I’m waiting to hear.”

Oppal noted McCallum doesn’t attend the meetings, as he has professionals on staff who do that work.

“They are highly qualified people,” he said. “Everybody who’s in the room is operating in good faith so I’m not suggesting anything untoward when I say the Surrey team postponed the meetings, they may have had legitimate reasons for doing that.”

Oppal said Tuesday his agenda, “and the agenda of the transition team is to establish a police force that’s excellent and serves Surrey well.”

“The province has given the red light to Surrey to establish it’s own police force. This is a complex issue,” he said. “What we’re doing is establishing a police force, a police department, right from the ground up. It’s not easy, and it’s complex.”

READ MORE: McCallum calls it a great and historic day as province approves Surrey’s policing plan

SEE ALSO: Province approves Surrey’s plan to establish municipal police force

Oppal said the committee’s first job is to establish a police board, which will then select a police chief.

“After that, there’s a recruitment program that has to go into effect, and training programs,” he explained. “Right now, we’re having challenges because the police academy, the Justice Institute, is operating at full capacity. So we have to figure out where the new police force will train.”

The transition from RCMP to a municipal force also comes with its own issues, Oppal noted.

“For instance, what about the ongoing investigations, and ongoing prosecutions, how do we handle these? These are not political issues, they’re real issues that have to be done if we’re going to have an excellent police force. People need to be patient.”

Another complex matter is how a Surrey police force will effect neighbouring police forces, and how they will liaise.

Asked if Surrey’s cost estimates for its new force were accurate, Oppal chuckled as he replied it’s too early to know.

“That’s what everybody wants to know,” he said. “I don’t know. We have a number of guys in the room, Paul Gill, an auditor, so we have people who will be auditing and telling us what the costs will be.”

But the timeline remains unchanged, with the force set to launch in the spring of 2021.

“Everybody agreed on that. So we’re aiming for that and I see no reason why we can’t accomplish that.”

READ MORE: Surrey reacts to policing plan getting the green light



amy.reid@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook and follow Amy on Twitter

Just Posted

Surrey 37 per cent behind in housing supply projections

Of 18 cities in Metro Vancouver, only City of North Vancouver and Richmond met or exceeded projections

Winning Christmas card art shown at Surrey gallery

Arts Council of Surrey’s annual competition won by Edwin Stephen and Nancy Painter

Delta police campaign shines a light relationship violence

Campaign comes after a Delta man was charged with assault with a weapon and uttering threats

‘A labour of love’: High school turns into ‘toy shop’ for Surrey Christmas Bureau

Fraser Heights Secondary has been making toys for the non-profit for more than a decade

MAP: Christmas light displays in Surrey and beyond

Send us pictures of your National Lampoon-style lit-up homes, nativity scenes or North Pole playlands

Owners of hotels on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside fight $1 expropriation in court

Vancouver City Council voted to expropriate the properties for $1 each in November

‘Things haven’t changed enough:’ Ecole Polytechnique anniversary prompts reflection

Fourteen women were fatally shot by a gunman at the Montreal school on Dec. 6, 1989

Bear raids freezer, gorges on Island family’s Christmas baking

Hungry bruin virtually ignored meat and fish, focused, instead, on the sweets

B.C. pharmaceutical company’s stocks double in value after successful lupus drug trial

More than 40 per cent of patients using voclosporin saw improvements in kidney function

Second warning on romaine lettuce from California region as another E. coli case reported

Two cases of E. coli have been reported in relation to the illness in the U.S.

Braille signs coming to TransLink bus stops in 2020

Transit authority says it’s the first to do so in Canada and the United States

CUPE issues 72-hour strike notice for SkyTrain

Local 7000 release states ‘parties are still bargaining’, union will have job action plan by Saturday

Abbotsford man was ‘unintended victim’ of 2018 fatal shooting, police say

Jagvir Malhi, 19, was gunned down while on his way to university

Most Read