One Surrey councillor says the proposed policing transition plan is “shocking” and argues taxpayers deserve to see the report they paid for.
“While I can’t talk about what we saw and heard yesterday in-camera, I think there are a number of key details that would shock our community when it comes to the numbers and the size of the proposed Surrey force,” said lone Surrey First Councillor Linda Annis in a release Thursday morning, one day after councillors were first shown details of the proposed policing transition from Surrey RCMP to a municipal force.
“Taxpayers paid for the report and they have every right to see the details and ask the hard questions. Frankly, all of this secrecy and behind-closed-doors decision making flies in the face of full transparency, something you’d expect from any police department. I want complete transparency and public consultation where people have the all the facts and can ask serious questions,” she added.
This afternoon, the city is holding the first public engagement meeting about the transition, from 3 to 7 p.m. at the Cloverdale Recreation Centre. At the event, according to a city, “residents will be able to learn more about the transition process and offer their input as to which priorities they want to see in shaping the Surrey Police Department” at these events.
But according to Annis, the “so-called” public consultation equates to nothing more than a “sales pitch with few details, no numbers and no accountability to local taxpayers.”
“These sessions aren’t real consultation, they’re simply information sessions,” said Annis in a release. “This should have been an open process, instead it is completely closed to the community, and that’s not right. Public consultation without the public seeing the report is ridiculous, it makes absolutely no sense at all. Our taxpayers deserve better and they should say so at the Cloverdale Rec Centre today. Councillors got the chance to see the report yesterday for the first time and it raised plenty of serious questions and lots of practical concerns, particularly when you realize this is the largest single budget item for our city.”
On Wednesday afternoon, Mayor Doug McCallum said the policing report had officially been submitted to the provincial government for its review.
“The completion of the policing transition report is a landmark moment for the City of Surrey as it marks an important step in bringing local accountability to the citizens of Surrey,” McCallum said in an emailed statement.
“I look forward to hearing back from the Solicitor General. With the report now in the hands of the provincial government we are moving ahead with our public engagement sessions. I urge our residents to come out and help us shape their Surrey Police Department.”
“No further comment will be made by Mayor McCallum,” the press release stated.
Premier John Horgan was in Surrey Thursday morning for a health care announcement but commented on Surrey’s policing transition (see video below).
Premier John Horgan on Surrey's policing transition plan… pic.twitter.com/Ta027fIsTi
— Tom Zytaruk (@tomzytaruk) May 23, 2019
Also on Thursday morning, Public Safety Minister and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth has released a statement.
“I have received the City of Surrey’s proposal for an alternative policing service delivery model. As Solicitor General, it’s my statutory responsibility to provide a decision on the proposal, to ensure it meets the requirements of the Police Act to provide adequate and effective policing and meets the expectations of public safety for the people of Surrey,” his statement reads.
“Surrey’s proposal for an independent police department is a statutory process that deals with many complex issues, so it will be important not to rush this. Staff will now review and provide advice to me in my role as Solicitor General to determine the next steps—taking into consideration the thoroughness of the plan. I have discussed with the Mayor my expectation that the report, in some form, is made available to the public in the weeks ahead. As always, our work will be guided by our priority of keeping the people of Surrey safe,” Farnworth added.
Residents are encouraged to visit a new website, surreypolice.ca, for more information.