Dwayne McDonald enjoyed one heck of a career milestone on Tuesday.
Standing behind a podium in the same room he wrote his RCMP entrance exam 24 years ago, he returns as the officer in charge of Canada’s largest detachment.
“Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined that one day I would be coming back as the officer in charge,” he told the roomful of reporters and dignitaries. “I am excited about this opportunity, if for no other reason than I love being a police officer.”
Chief Superintendent McDonald is Surrey RCMP’s new top cop, taking over the reins from Assistant Commissioner Bill Fordy, who was promoted earlier this year to Lower Mainland District Commander.
“I joined the RCMP for many reasons but at the heart of it all was, and is, a desire to help people, to meet their needs, to be available, to be open, to be transparent and accountable,” McDonald said. “To protect and more importantly to serve. There’s no better place to do that than in Surrey. Surrey is an amazing city.”
McDonald began his career as a constable in Burnaby, leaving that city as a sergeant to be a team commander for the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team. He then transferred to the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit, B.C.’s integrated anti-gang unit, in 2011, where he was team commander in charge of the investigation into the gangland slaying of Jonathan Bacon.
In 2012, McDonald made inspector and was an operations officer/senior investigator at CFSEU-BC. He took charge of IHIT in 2014, after being promoted to the rank of superintendent, leading Canada’s largest homicide unit.
McDonald earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree at Simon Fraser University, is a member of the Major Case Management Committee and the Integrated Kidnapping Operational Response working group and last year received the Order of Merit of the Police Forces.
He lives in New Westminster with his wife and three children but grew up in Guildford, where he got his first job at age 17 selling shoes at a sporting goods store. As an adult, he has lived in Whalley and Fleetwood, and in his spare time coaches youth hockey.
Surrey’s new police chief has two brothers. One is an officer in the U.S. military and the other is a minister, also in the U.S. His father Gordon McDonald is Pastor Emeritus of Calvary Christian Church in Guildford.
“I often say we’re all fighting evil, in our own way,” he said. “At the heart of it, for me, it’s about helping people.”
As a university student he worked in Canada Customs, as it was known before it became the Canada Border Services Agency.
“It was at that time that I realized law enforcement was a career that I wanted to pursue and the RCMP, based on the history, tradition and the excellence of policing that it has long held, was my first choice.”
As for his new charge, he said, “I will strive to build on what has proven successful.
“Together, in partnership with the community, with business and with all levels of government, we will provide a public safety model, in Surrey, that will be the envy of all.
“As for what I’d change? I just got keys to my office this morning so I haven’t quite delved into all the issues,” he told those at the press conference. “If it’s not working, we need to change it.”
Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner sang McDonald’s praises.
“His style is to lead from the front, not watch from the sidelines. If work needs to be done, he will do it,” she said.
Hepner also thanked Fordy.
“Bill has made invaluable contributions to the people of Surrey,” she said. “His leadership, his commitment and his progressive approach to policing have enhanced the safety and security of our residents.”
Like McDonald, Fordy had also been in charge of IHIT before he became officer in charge of the Surrey RCMP.
“The great days far outweighed the dark ones,” Fordy said of his time as Surrey RCMP’s OIC. His first RCMP posting was in Surrey in 1989. “I confess that it is not easy to leave,” he said. “The people here are second to none.
“I know Surrey detachment is in great hands.”