An example of a Surrey Police cruiser, showcased at Mayor Doug McCallum’s State of the City Address at Civic Hotel in May of 2019. (File photo: Amy Reid)

‘Historic moment’ as seven community members are named to Surrey’s new police board

They’ll join the mayor of Surrey as chair and a municipal council appointee

The provincial Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General has announced the members of Surrey’s new police board, as part of the city’s transition from the RCMP to a municipal police department.

“The lieutenant governor in council has appointed seven community members under section 23(1)(c) of the Police Act to the City of Surrey’s municipal police board, joining the mayor of Surrey as chair and a municipal council appointee to complete the nine-person board,” the ministry said in a news release Monday (June 29).

The seven community members are Chief Harley Chappell (elected Chief of the Semiahmoo First Nation), Cheney Cloke (director, Fraser Health Authority), Elizabeth Model (CEO, Downtown Surrey Business Improvement Association), James Carwana (mediator and arbitrator), Jaspreet Sunner (lawyer and labour relations representative, Hospital Employees’ Union), Manav Gill (manager, clinical operations, Fraser Health Authority) and Meena Brisard (regional director, Canadian Union of Public Employees).

• RELATED STORY: Help wanted: Surrey Police Board executive director, members

The board will be responsible for “setting the direction and strategic priorities” of the Surrey Police Department, to replace the Surrey RCMP.

“Today is truly a historic moment in the City of Surrey,” Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum said at a virtual news conference Monday.

“The seven provincial appointees were given approval by the minister and cabinet with official confirmation made by the Lieutenant Governor. The seven provincial appointed board members will join Bob Rolls, previously appointed by Surrey City Council, and myself on the Surrey Police Board.”

• READ ALSO: Province releases long-awaited 455-page report on Surrey’s police transition.

The ministry says that following “an extensive assessment and screening process,” the community members of the board were chosen “by aligning individual skills, competencies and attributes with the needs and responsibilities of the board and to reflect the diversity of the community.”

Initial appointments will range from 12- to 18-month terms.

“Under the Police Act, the board is required to establish and oversee the Surrey Police Department and is subject to oversight by the director of police services, who has a statutory responsibility to superintend policing in B.C.,” the ministry says in a news release.

The board has four main governance functions, including employing the police and civilian employees, providing financial oversight for the police department, establishing policies and directions for the department, and managing service and policy complaints against the department.

A next step in the City of Surrey’s transition plan will be for the new board to hire a chief constable.

In 2018, Surrey city council voted unanimously to terminate their agreement with the RCMP and transition to a municipal police department.

In a news release Monday, the National Police Federation (NPF) called on the Surrey Police Board “to finally address key unanswered questions about Mayor Doug McCallum’s costly transition plan.”

“Now that the Surrey Police Board is in place, members of the public will finally get some answers about this costly plan,” NPF president Brian Sauvé stated.

“Ever since the transition was announced, members of the public have been left in the dark about the true cost of the plan, as well as key details that could have a serious impact on public safety in Surrey.”

Sauvé said the NPF has a number of questions that the Surrey Police Board needs to answer as the body accountable to Surrey residents on matters of policing, including the true cost of the transition plan, infrastructure, recruitment options and the impact of COVID-19 on the transition costs.

Sauvé underlined that the decision by the provincial government to appoint members of the Surrey Police Board “does not bind the provincial government to Surrey’s police transition. Section 23 of the Police Act provides the Minister with an ongoing authority to withhold or withdraw approval for the transition.”

At his virtual news conference Monday, McCallum said the day’s “milestone” was an important one.

“With the Surrey Police Board now in place, we can start in earnest the critical work ahead that will set the foundation for a new, innovative, modern and proactive police service that is tailormade for Surrey.

“I want to extend my sincere thanks to Premier Horgan for his support for this project.

“To Minister Farnworth, I want to thank you for the priority and attention you have given to Surrey Police every step of the way. The speed in which you and your team have worked to build this amazing Board must be duly recognized and commended.”

McCallum went on to thank members of Surrey RCMP for their service and dedication to the city, and for helping “to build what was once a farming community into the metropolitan area that Surrey is today.

“The move to a city police service of this size is unprecedented and the substantial and complex work involved to make such a switch possible is no small undertaking.

“I want to thank all the city staff and the members of our policing transition team for their hard work and long hours. How far we have come in such a short time is proof of the quality of work you have done on this important file.”

Assistant Commissioner Brian Edwards, Surrey RCMP’s officer in charge, called the formation of the Surrey Police Board “an expected development” following Farnworth’s announcement in February.

“I look forward to hearing the specific details on what the transition from the RCMP to a municipal police force will look like,” Edwards said in a statement posted online. “These details and the timeline will be negotiated by Public Safety Canada and the Surrey Police Board.

“The RCMP is a contract service provider in Surrey and, as such, we do not have a role in the decision-making process for this transition. However, we do have a role in this community. We police Surrey with passion, skill and experience, and we have many strong partnerships here that have been developed over many decades. We will continue to police Surrey with pride for as long as we are contracted to do so.”

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