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Surrey reacts to province’s order to proceed with Surrey Police Service

Public safety minister Mike Farnworth announces decision from Victoria
The NDP provincial government has ordered the City of Surrey to proceed with the Surrey Police Service and abandon its plan to retain the Surrey RCMP as the city’s police of jurisdiction. (Photo: Anna Burns)

The province’s public safety minister Mike Farnworth has ordered Surrey to continue with the policing transition to Surrey Police Service – and residents and politicians alike were quick to react to his decision.

Surrey First Coun. Linda Annis said in a statement that it is time to move on and build the best possible police department.

“The costly and divisive on-again-off-again policing debate is finally over,” said Annis. “While we wanted a referendum to give Surrey taxpayers their say, the province has made its decision, and it’s now time to move on and get past the emotion and arguments of the past five years. We need to put the past in the rearview mirror and get on with completing the transition to the Surrey Police Service and making the SPS the very best police department in the province.”

Annis’ Surrey First colleague Coun. Mike Bose stated now it is time to end the debate.

“Our focus now should be on creating the sort of first-rate police service Surrey residents can be proud of each and every day,” stated Bose. “All of us need to thank our RCMP detachment as we now move forward with the SPS. The decision is made, and I’m only sorry that so many RCMP and SPS officers felt as though they were caught in the middle of all this, because each of them deserved so much better.”

The Surrey Police Union said it is “grateful to the province for bringing certainty to the future of policing in Surrey.” Here is the union’s statement in full:

Former Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum said the decision “fulfills a key platform promise” made by his Safe Surrey Coalition during the 2018 municipal election.

“For the past five years, the citizens of Surrey have been eagerly anticipating the establishment of the Surrey Police Service,” reads a statement attributed to McCallum. “Today’s decision by the Province reaffirms that this is the best choice for public safety in our city, and it marks a momentous occasion. We are delighted to see our vision become a reality, and we are grateful for the support we have received from the province throughout this process.”

Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim also released a statement in support of Farnworth’s decision, saying it’s time to “move on” when it comes to policing in the Lower Mainland.

“We respect the solicitor general’s decision to keep the Surrey Police Service as the primary law enforcement agency for Surrey. We appreciate the minister for bringing this matter to a close,” stated Sim. “We share the solicitor general’s commitment to improving public safety outcomes in our region and are ready to contribute to these efforts in any way necessary.”

On the flip side, the Surrey Board of Trade wasn’t happy at all with Farnworth’s announcement.

“We are disappointed with the decision made by the B.C. government today,” said Jasroop Gosal, the board’s policy and research manager.

“The RCMP has implemented many policies and procedures that ensure effective policing in Surrey. What Surrey residents and businesses need is a solid policing strategy with adequate wrap-around support services. Further, there is no evidence that moving to a municipal police force won’t impact the movement of police officers from other jurisdictions to ensure that Surrey has the appropriate number of police officers needed on a per capita basis.

“The next steps for Surrey are crucial, and this complex situation will be closely monitored by the Surrey Board of Trade.”

Sonia Furstenau, MLA for Cowichan Valley and Leader of the BC Greens, issued a statement urging the Minister and everyone involved to be transparent about the process and engage with the concerns of the community.

“I think it’s important that provincial oversight of policing is enacted throughout British Columbia. This was a need identified by the all-party Special Committee to Reform the Police Act, whose recommendations the BC NDP have been sitting on for 14 months,” stated Furstenau.

“The committee explicitly recommended an all-party oversight committee to ensure that a transformation of policing in B.C. is democratic and de-politicized. They also recommended that B.C. move away from the RCMP and create a provincial police service.”

Meanwhile, here’s a sample of what people on Twitter were posting:

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Anna Burns

About the Author: Anna Burns

I started with Black Press Media in the fall of 2022 as a multimedia journalist after finishing my practicum at the Surrey Now-Leader.
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