Two members of Surrey’s COVID-19 Compliance and Enforcement Team (CCET) get ready to hit the beat. (Photo: Surrey RCMP)

Two members of Surrey’s COVID-19 Compliance and Enforcement Team (CCET) get ready to hit the beat. (Photo: Surrey RCMP)

Surrey team policing compliance with COVID-19 orders caps first year on Friday

Weighing balance ‘between constitutional rights and the citizens’ right to protest while maintaining public safety’ a ‘big challenge,’ police say

Surrey Mounties and city bylaws officers on Friday, March 26, will mark the one-year anniversary of the inception of the COVID-19 Compliance and Enforcement Team (CCET), created to address safety and compliance with B.C. provincial health orders in Surrey. So far, it has issued 135 violation tickets under the Emergency Program Act.

Surrey RCMP Corporal Joanie Sidhu, heading into this second year of CCET enforcement, said the “vast majority” of the public abided by B.C.’s public health orders while non-compliance was observed in less than one per cent of the over-all checks in Surrey.

Police won’t reveal how many officers are on the team. “We don’t normally provide the exact number of our resources just for officer safety reasons,” Sidhu explained.

Staff Sergeant Tyner Gillies, NCO-IC of emergency operational planning unit for the Surrey RCMP during the pandemic, runs a crew that works in tandem with the CCET.

He said that prior to the pandemic being declared, the detachment had a sense of what was going on overseas with the coronavirus in February 2020 and had put a plan in place “just in case we happened to get a COVID positive person who is in Surrey.

“And then the world-wide pandemic happened and our lives completely and utterly changed.”

SEE ALSO VIDEO: Surrey mayor given COVID-19 vaccination on same day as first teachers in city

Gilles said the day after the pandemic was declared his team was tasked with securing PPE and cleaning supplies, and put in charge of tracking work-related absences in case the Surrey RCMP needed to redeploy its resources.

“At the bottom line, our mission was to ensure that Surrey detachment had the resources to maintain our core policing responsibilities.”

As good fortune had it, a Surrey constable with a PhD in chemistry and another officer who taught chemistry before joining the police put their scientific know-how to good use to whip-up some in-house hand sanitizer for the detachment straight out of the gate.

“So in between taking a recipe from the World Health Organization, consulting with our resident expert, our PhD in chemistry, we developed our own hand sanitizer and were distributing it to the members within about two days of the pandemic being announced,” Gilles recalled.

READ ALSO: B.C. more than doubles fine for breaking COVID-19 gathering orders

Corporal Bob Keay a member of the CCET, said the team concerned itself with checking gatherings at parks, beaches and sports fields at the outset of the pandemic but later focused on ensuring businesses were closed as prescribed under public health orders. Rotating teams, seven days a week, pulled on door handles to make certain businesses were closed.

“It was odd at that time. I remember coming into work and it was like a ghost town. It reminded me so much of when I was a kid, and businesses were closed on Sunday. It was just nobody out there, it was so strange.”

The team has to keep track of public health orders as they change, making sure businesses have plexiglass and safety plans in place, adequate hand sanitizer on hand, and restaurants and bars had no more than six people at any given table. “I think we only hit about less than one per cent of non-compliance of all the businesses that we checked and we’ve gone through the entire list in the city of Surrey, of all the businesses, three times over already just to ensure compliance,” Keay said. “There’s a lot of businesses.”

The CCET developed a grid map to track who was checking what and to make sure there was “fair coverage” of the entire city.

Asked what working with the CCET has taught him, if anything new, about human nature, Keay replied that for the most part, “everybody out there” wants to do the right thing.

“They’re trying the best that they can. We’re humans; obviously it’s natural for people to want to socialize and meet with their friends but at the same time everybody has a responsibility. For the most part, I think people are receptive to what we are doing.

“Having to weigh the balance between constitutional rights and the citizens’ right to protest while maintaining public safety, I mean, that’s a big challenge,” Keay added.

READ ALSO: B.C. considering paid time off for workers to get COVID-19 vaccine

Meantime, Surrey Fire Chief Larry Thomas says his department is in the process of finishing up with screening and recruitment to hire 10 more firefighters to focus on the city centre.

“They’re be starting orientation some time in early May,” he said, “then be available for service at the end of June.”

As for the pandemic, Thomas said, “We’re getting by. I think our crews are doing a good job of staying safe. There hasn’t been any real risks related to patient care and response.

“The one thing that we run into is people will get exposed in their off-duty time to family or somebody, and that causes a bunch of isolations, 14-day isolations, which creates a little bit of pressure on our system,” he said. “I know staff would like to be vaccinated sooner than later; I’m sure that would help relieve some of my pressure with isolations and things like that.”

READ ALSO: Surrey to get 10 more firefighters under proposed city budget



tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram  and follow Tom on Twitter

City of SurreyCoronaviruspublic healthSurreysurrey rcmp

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

Just Posted

Marchers supporting Indian farmers rallied in Surrey last month, from Bear Creek Park to Holland Park along King George Boulevard. (File photo: Tom Zillich)
Surrey MP says mayor’s motion to support Indian farmers is his to make

“He has his own sovereignty, right,” Sukh Dhaliwal says

Lord Tweedsmuir’s Tremmel States-Jones jumps a player and the goal line to score a touchdown against the Kelowna Owls in 2019. The face of high school football, along with a majority of other high school sports, could significantly change if a new governance proposal is passed at the B.C. School Sports AGM May 1. (Photo: Malin Jordan)
Power struggle: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

Most commissions against new model; BCSS and its board in favour

Researchers say residents should leave sleeping bats alone while they exit hibernation. (Cathy Koot photo)
Spring ‘signal’ brings White Rock, Surrey bats out of hibernation

Community Bat Programs of BC says it’s best to leave sleeping bats alone

(Photo: Creative Outlet)
YOUR MONEY: Tax tips for a complicated tax season involving CERB and more

With April 30 tax deadline, ‘it is important to understand the tax implications (benefits) will have’

The Delta Police Department’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Unit: (from left) Const. Joel Thirsk, analyst Jody Johnson and Staff Sgt. Sukh Sidhu. (Delta Police Department photo)
Delta police respond to rising number of hate crimes

Police have received 15 reports so far in 2021, compared to 12 in all of 2020

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as he walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Top doctor warns B.C.’s daily cases could reach 3,000 as COVID hospitalizations surge

There are more than 400 people in hospital, with 125 of them in ICU

The father of Aaliyah Rosa planted a tree and laid a plaque in her memory in 2018. (Langley Advance Times files)
Final witness will extend Langley child murder trial into May or June

Lengthy trial began last autumn with COVID and other factors forcing it to take longer than expected

The corner of 96th Avenue and Glover Road in Fort Langley now has traffic signals, and new “touchless” signal activation buttons. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)
Busy Fort Langley intersection gets ‘touchless’ crosswalk signals

The new traffic light started operation in April

A crossing guard stops traffic as students wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 arrive at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. A number of schools in the Fraser Health region, including Woodward Hill, have reported cases of the B.1.7.7 COVID-19 variant first detected in the U.K. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-infected students in Lower Mainland schools transmitting to 1 to 2 others: data

Eight to 13 per cent of COVID cases among students in the Lower Mainland were acquired in schools, B.C. says

Dr. Bonnie Henry – in a B.C. health order that went into effect April 12 – granted WorkSafe inspectors the power to enforce workplace closures with COVID-19 spread. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
24 workplace closures being enforced in Fraser Health under new COVID-19 order

WorkSafe inspectors the power to enforce closures if COVID-19 has spread to 3 or more employees

Maple Ridge Fire and Rescue were conducting training operations at Gold Creek Falls when a firefighter broke their leg. (Eileen Robinson photo - Special to The News)
Firefighter suffers broken leg during swift water rescue practice in Golden Ears park

A training exercise at Maple Ridge waterfall on Wedesday results in mishap

Norm Scott, president of Royal Canadian Legion Branch # 91, is disappointed the Legion does not qualify for COVID financial assistance from the provincial government. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C.’s pandemic aid package passing Legion branches by

Federal non-profit status stymies provincial assistance eligibility

Latest modelling by public health shows cases generated by COVID-19 infections into places where it can spread quickly. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
Industrial sites, pubs, restaurants driving COVID-19 spread in B.C.

Infection risk higher in offices, retail, warehouses, farms

Most Read