CORRECTION (Thursday, July 9, 12:41 p.m.)
The editorial below was published in today’s issue of the Now-Leader (Thursday, July 9, 2020). In fact, councillors are ineligible to be on the board, according to the BC Police Act.
Legislation exists regarding appointments to police boards and is entirely under the purview of the provincial government. The BC Police Act prescribes police board appointments which includes the mayor as chair (ex officio or non-voting), up to seven provincial appointees and one municipal appointee. All seven board members were appointed on June 29 by a provincial Order in Council.
Additionally, according to Section 24 (1) of the Act:
A person who is a councillor or is ineligible to be elected as a councillor must not be appointed to a municipal police board.
This structure is designed to ensure independence of the police board and insulation of the Service (SPS) from local politics.
The Now-Leader apologizes for any confusion our editorial may have caused.
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Who will be the lone Surrey councillor to join Mayor Doug McCallum on the city’s new police board?
Will it be the naturopath, the environmental protection officer, the realtor/yoga instructor, or the meat shop owner?
Or will it be the former Block Watch captain, the former MLA, the long-time executive director of Crime Stoppers, or the retired veteran police officer?
Last week, the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General revealed who will be the seven community members on Surrey’s new police board, with McCallum to serve as its chairman. That leaves the appointment of a councillor to complete the circle.
By any objective standard, it should be a shortlist of two: Either the councillor with 25 years’ experience as a police officer, or the councillor who has served as executive director of Crime Stoppers since 2004. Both candidates are steeped in policing and crime-related issues and their presence at that table would undoubtedly be a boon to Surrey residents, especially given that this is a fledgling board that will oversee a fledgling city police force.
The hitch is, both of these obviously superior candidates are rivals to McCallum and his Safe Surrey Coalition – whose members the mayor exclusively appointed in 2019 to the interim Police Transitory Advisory Committee.
The mark of a statesman, and not just a mere politician, is to know when to set aside political advantage to do what’s best for the citizenry.
We hope that’s what happens here, with this council member appointment to Surrey’s new police board.
The city’s residents deserve nothing less.