Surrey RCMP volunteer speed checker Bill Brand says new rules are forcing him to retire.

Surrey RCMP volunteer speed checker Bill Brand says new rules are forcing him to retire.

Safety volunteer hits the road after 23 years

Organizational changes in Speed Watch program force 89-year-old to move on.

  • Sep. 16, 2016 3:00 p.m.

by Andrew Fleming

One of the Surrey RCMP’s longest-serving volunteers has chosen to go off the radar.

Bill Brand, 89, spent nearly a quarter of a century as a member of Speed Watch, a group of unpaid road-safety enthusiasts who use radar guns and digital sign boards to monitor motorists’ speeds in school and playground zones.

The grandfather of three said he is reluctantly hanging up his reflective safety vest due to changes in the management of the organization.

“They changed things around and I just don’t agree with it so I’m giving it up,” Brand told the Leader.  “I would have preferred to stay on for another year or two.”

The City of Surrey has a total of five RCMP detachments: Whalley/City Centre (District 1), Guildford/Fleetwood (District 2), Newton (District 3), Cloverdale (District 4) and South Surrey (District 5).

Brand said changes to the Speed Watch program could require him to potentially operate or undertake training elsewhere in the city rather than simply near his home in District 1.

“I hate to give it up, but I had to,” said Brand, who was named Police Volunteer of the Year in 2008 for his years of service.

“I’ve worked for 23 years to get it where it is and now they’ve just thrown it all out. Don’t get me wrong, I have all the respect for the RCMP and I have a lot of friends (there) but it’s somebody (there) that doesn’t know how to handle community volunteers and that is the big problem.”

Brand first began encouraging drivers to slow down after a heart attack and triple-bypass surgery put a stop to his career as a heavy-duty mechanic back in his sixties. He decided to volunteer his new free time to help ensure public safety, particularly in areas where there are children.

“I had a schedule and I tried to make it to all the District 1 schools at least once every two weeks and I went out every day,” he said. “I had a good relation with the crossing guards, the teachers, the principals. They all wanted me to come. They would phone me at home and ask when I was coming back.”

Insp. Andy LeClair, who was hired in May as the police force’s new Community Support and Safety Officer, said the changes are a result of efforts to standardize RCMP volunteer programs across the city.

“There has been a bit of realignment of the volunteer program,” said LeClair.

“For the most part, it used to be run independently with the districts. Now what we are trying to do is keep it so there is consistency across all five districts. So that has meant some changes and of course not everybody is happy with change. But if there was something that required a volunteer in District 1, you will still be able to volunteer for that, it would just be managed out of our main detachment.”

Speed Watch is an ICBC-sponsored program that aims to reduce incidents of speeding and make streets safer. Research has shown that more than 70 percent of drivers who are travelling 10km/h beyond the speed limit slow down when they see a speed reader board.

Volunteers are also accompanied by RCMP officers who issue warnings or tickets to drivers, and the recorded speed data is then used to help police determine spots where speeding is a significant problem.

There are currently 110 volunteers working with the RCMP and another 41 undergoing training this fall.

LeClair added that every effort is being made to accommodate the needs of potential or existing volunteers.

“We are not going to tell people ‘you need to go here’ or ‘you need to go there,’ especially those who are currently in the program,” said LeClair.

“We understand that there are limitations with respect to their ability to move around and so obviously we are going to accommodate those individuals.”

“I don’t want to understate the appreciation we have for Mr. Brand,” LeClair added. “That kind of dedication deserves to be recognized and we are certainly appreciative. That is a message we certainly don’t want to have lost in this. He has been a tremendously valuable volunteer to us.”

Surrey North Delta Leader

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The volume of visitors to White Rock’s Marine Drive over the weekend has led council to consider special measures this week. (Aaron Hinks photo)
White Rock council rejects resident-only parking for waterfront

Other health and safety measures to be considered in a special meeting Wednesday

South Surrey’s Paul Cottrell, who works with the DFO, tows a grey whale out of Semiahmoo Bay Sunday. (Contributed photo)
Dead whale floating near White Rock towed to shore for necropsy

Animal has been dead since at least April 15

Vehicles line up for the Greater Vancouver Drive-Thru Food Truck Festival at the Chilliwack Coliseum parking lot on March 27. The touring event comes to Cloverdale this weekend, April 24-25 (Photo: Jenna Hauck/Chilliwack Progress)
Here are the food trucks coming to Cloverdale for a drive-thru festival this weekend

Nine trucks will be parked Saturday, nine Sunday during event at fairgrounds

Pharmacist Barbara Violo arranges all the empty vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines that she has provided to customers at the Junction Chemist which is a independent pharmacy during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto, on Monday, April 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Parts of Surrey, North Delta to get AstraZeneca vaccines for people ages 40+

A total of seven communities in Surrey and Delta will be targeted

The Braidwood Band performs for the seniors at Zion Park Manor in Surrey, as part of a music program planned by Rick’s Heart Foundation. (submitted photo)
VIDEO: Surrey charity brings distanced concerts to care homes, with prop pink firetruck

Familiar tunes performed for seniors during pandemic-era ‘Heart for Music’ program

In this image from NASA, NASA’s experimental Mars helicopter Ingenuity lands on the surface of Mars Monday, April 19, 2021. The little 4-pound helicopter rose from the dusty red surface into the thin Martian air Monday, achieving the first powered, controlled flight on another planet. (NASA via AP)
VIDEO: NASA’s Mars helicopter takes flight, 1st for another planet

The $85 million helicopter demo was considered high risk, yet high reward

Dr. Bonnie Henry gives her daily media briefing regarding Covid-19 for the province of British Columbia in Victoria, B.C, Monday, December 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Toddler marks youngest British Columbian to die related to COVID-19

Child one of eight people to die from virus this weekend

Families of two of three workers killed in a train derailment near Field, B.C., in 2019 have filed lawsuits accusing Canadian Pacific of gross negligence. The derailment sent 99 grain cars and two locomotives off the tracks. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Families of workers killed in Field train derailment allege negligence in lawsuit

Lawsuits allege the workers weren’t provided a safe work environment

(New Westminster Police)
4 youth arrested after 30-person brawl in New Westminster leaves 1 seriously injured

Police are looking for witnesses who saw the incident take place

Sunday’s storm rocked one of the ferries crossing Kootenay Lake. Photo: Dirk Jonker
VIDEO: Storm makes for wild ferry ride across Kootenay Lake

The video was captured by ferry employee Dirk Jonker

Chakalaka Bar & Grill remains open in defiance of orders from Island Health to close. (Cole Schisler photo)
B.C. health authority seeks injunction against restaurant defying COVID-19 orders

Chakalaka Bar and Grill plans to continue serving customers without public health compliance

The Abbotsford Centre has the ability to host AHL level games if the Vancouver Canucks or any other NHL team chose to move its affiliate to the arena. (File photo)
Abbotsford Centre ready for AHL if right opportunity presents itself

Building recently upgraded glass and boards, schedule would allow for AHL tenant

A defeat Sunday in Kamloops tied up the Giants and Blazers for the most wins this season. Each team has notched seven victories in the B.C. division play unfolding this season on ice in Kamloops and Kelowna. (Allen Douglas/Special to Black Press Media)
VIDEO: Giants record fifth shutout of the season

Vancouver G-Men take down Kamloops Blazers on home ice Sunday, 4-0

Most Read