This story has been updated with comments from Brenda Locke
Now that Brenda Locke has been chosen as the mayor-elect for Surrey, the Surrey Police Service say they’re “confident” that the police transition will continue. However, Locke says she’s already on the road to stopping the shift in its tracks.
Locke claimed victory over incumbent mayor Doug McCallum by a narrow vote Saturday (Oct. 15) night, receiving 33,311 votes to McCallum’s 32,338. The Surrey Connect mayor-elect stated many times that her number one priority is stopping the police transition to a municipal police force that was announced under McCallum’s council.
“It’s not a change, things will just carry on and the RCMP will re-ramp up and do the job that they’ve always done for us in Surrey and serving the city of Surrey and that will continue. There won’t be any big physical change to the public,” Locke told Peace Arch News, adding that the reason there will be no significant change is that the RCMP are still the police of jurisdiction.
Locke has already had meetings the day after results were released (Sunday, Oct. 16) to begin the process of stopping the police transition, she said.
The Surrey Police Service said in a press release that they are looking forward to discussing the matter with the new mayor and council and “updating the new Surrey City Council on the continuing development of SPS and the status of the policing transition, which is progressing well under the direction of the three levels of government.”
SPS stated that millions have already been invested in the new police force, with a union in place as well as 350 staff under the Surrey Police and over 150 officers “providing operational police service to Surrey.”
But according to Locke, the amount of money put into the transition so far does not come close to the financial burden Surrey residents can expect if it continues.
“We simply cannot afford this move to a municipal police force. It is not something the city can afford to do and I think it has been incredibly unfortunate that the process has been flawed from the beginning, that due diligence was never done,” she said.
Locke also promises that SPS officers will be considered during the entire process and it will be handled with care.
“I offer my congratulations to Surrey’s new mayor and councillors,” SPS chief constable Norm Lipinski said.
“I firmly believe council will see the benefits that municipal policing brings to Surrey and realize the significant financial and human investments that have been put into making Surrey Police Service a reality.
“In 2020 we received a mandate to create a local police service tailored to Surrey’s public safety needs, and we will continue to move forward in fulfilling that mandate.”
The Surrey Police Board has also responded to Locke’s win, with executive director Melissa Granum saying that they are looking forward to meeting with the mayor-elect “as soon as possible to highlight the extensive work that has taken place, regarding the transition from the RCMP to Surrey Police Service, under the direction of all three levels of government.
“The Board is confident that the smooth transition to a municipal police service in Surrey will continue,” Granum said.
However, Locke doesn’t intend to budge on the issue.
“We know the costs are just far too much… It is highly unlikely that there is anything (SPS) can tell us that would change our mind. The RCMP are the police of jurisdiction in the city and they will remain that,” she told PAN.
“We have done the numbers and we know the cost of moving forward with it so far exceeds staying with the RCMP. We cannot do this, we cannot ask our residents to have tax increases that are extraordinary.
“We will not do that and so, at the end of the day, this is very much a fiscal issue as it is a practical (one).”
As far as the data that Locke and her team have collected, she says it will be shared with Surrey residents as soon as herself and the new council are sworn in.
Their data “shows the cost saving, what the 10 per cent rebate looks like, so we know those numbers, they are not numbers that we have (made) up, they are numbers that come from publicly sourced information,” Locke said.