Last week’s thumbs-up from the provincial government for Surrey to set up its own police force should not raise concerns for White Rock residents, the city’s top cop says.
Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls said regardless of who is policing the city next door, “we will continue to police White Rock in an effective manner.”
“Surrey RCMP and Delta Police have managed an effective relationship for years, we would do the same,” Pauls said by email.
He confirmed there has been interest from current Surrey RCMP officers about working at the seaside detachment. Those inquiring “are members that have been in Surrey for a while, want to stay in the area, and want to stay with the RCMP,” he said.
B.C. government officials announced Thursday morning that the City of Surrey has been authorized to establish its Surrey Police Department. It remains unclear exactly when SPD officers would begin patrolling.
Pauls said the evaluation of options for dispatching services – which the city currently relies on Surrey for – is among steps underway for White Rock. He anticipates it will be “a seamless process that the public will not notice.”
White Rock also depends on Surrey for some information technology support, and efforts are ongoing to become more self-reliant in that respect, he said.
Pauls also pledged to ensure “the same calibre of relationship” with leadership of the Surrey Police Department as currently exists with Surrey RCMP’s officer in charge, Assistant Cmsr. Brian Edwards.
“If a new police service comes to Surrey, I am confident that there will not be an invisible barrier on North Bluff Rd and Surrey and White Rock will continue to share intelligence and support each other during major incidents,” Pauls said by email.
Surrey council served notice of its intent to end the city’s contract with the RCMP at its inaugural meeting on Nov. 5, 2018.
Less than a year later, on Aug. 22, 2019, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth gave the city the go-ahead to pursue the plan.
The city’s 189-page proposed transition plan, revealed in June 2019, states the new force will “go live” on April 1, 2021 at an operating cost of $192.5 million for that year.
Thursday, Mayor Doug McCallum hailed the province’s authorization as “the final step to guarantee that we will now have our Surrey Police Department.”
The news arrived just two weeks after critics delivered a 40,000-plus signature petition opposing the police transition to B.C. Premier John Horgan’s Vancouver office.
Friday, the president of the White Rock and South Surrey chapter of CARP – the seniors’ advocacy group that came out strongly last month against McCallum’s move to create a new Surrey police force – said she was “absolutely gobsmacked” to hear Thursday’s news.
“I could not believe it,” Ramona Kaptyn said from Toronto.
“Absolutely everybody said what a bad idea it was, so where in the world was the go-ahead for this?”
The step, Kaptyn said, adds to other worries that have been mounting for seniors in recent days and weeks, including skyrocketing strata insurance rates and plummeting markets.
We’re being faced with a lot of worry, and losing the savings that we have,” she said. “I think everybody’s… thinking, ‘how did this happen?’”
Kaptyn said she’ll be reaching out to the CARP membership following her return this weekend from Toronto, in an effort to “see what our next steps are going to be.”
“But everybody is not happy,” she said.
“We’re an advocacy group and we advocate for fairness. At least, we like to be listened to.”