Surrey will stick with the RCMP as the police service of jurisdiction, Mayor Brenda Locke says.
In a press conference at Surrey City Hall Friday morning (April 28), Locke said a heavily redacted report from the province does nothing to change her mind on policing in the city.
Furthermore, the mayor added, she received the 148-page report about 30 minutes before the provincial government’s press conference, calling the move “disgraceful” and “disrespectful” to Surrey council and residents of the city.
Ninety minutes earlier Friday, Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said Surrey should continue with its transition from the Surrey RCMP to the Surrey Police Service, and encouraged a quick decision from Surrey.
“Our decision has not changed,” Locke said about the city council’s vote five months ago to retain RCMP for policing.
She stressed that Farnworth delivered a “recommendation, with strings attached” earlier Friday.
“The Solicitor General has also repeatedly said that there will be no new money for the transition, yet at the 11th hour there is financial support from the province, so long as our decision is the SPS (Surrey Police Service).
“It is clear to me that the Solicitor General has a position on which force he would like, but politics and not public safety in Surrey appear to be the driving force behind his recommendation.”
In a 25-minute news conference, Locke said she is “profoundly disappointed that the people of Surrey have been used as a piece on the Solicitor General’s chess board.
“The truth is, the original decision to allow this transition to go ahead was rushed and done without due diligence, and Surrey taxpayers have been paying dearly for it ever since.”
Asked if she thinks Surrey taxpayers are ready and willing to pay more for RCMP services, Locke said “the budget we presented to the public that has been passed was with the RCMP being police of jurisdiction. The Minister knew that full well and he still took six months to make a decision that was really a non-decision.”
– With file from Tom Zillich