An “Ideas Box” greets residents outside the entrance to the city’s first public consultation meeting, on Surrey’s policing transition, at the Cloverdale Recreation Centre on May 23, 2019. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)

An “Ideas Box” greets residents outside the entrance to the city’s first public consultation meeting, on Surrey’s policing transition, at the Cloverdale Recreation Centre on May 23, 2019. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)

COLUMN

ZYTARUK: The Surrey Police Service really needs to get its act together

Credibility is like sweet water in the desert, held in cupped hands. Open your fingers, and it spills onto the sand, gone forever

homelessphoto

So let it be written…

Such is the human condition that newcomers must prove themselves.

The new kid on the block, the new kid at school, the new worker at a job site, even new prison inmates must show what they are made of.

It’s no different for a new police force. And by any objective standard, the Surrey Police Service is having difficulty establishing its credibility as a viable alternative to the RCMP it aims to replace.

It has big boots to fill, apparently. Statistics Canada’s Crime Severity Index for 2019 indicates that over five years crime dropped in Surrey – under the RCMP’s watch – by 14.3 per cent while increasing in other big cities like Winnipeg (61.5 per cent), Calgary (52.2 per cent), Toronto (20.2 per cent) and Vancouver (1.2 per cent).

A police service is necessarily held to a higher standard of accountability and morality than most institutions simply because its reason for being is to uphold a set of laws that is designed to frustrate anarchy on our streets, in our homes and workplaces, and basically in the community at large. The RCMP’s motto Maintiens le Droit – Uphold the Right – dates back to 1873, when it was the North-West Mounted Police.

To meet this higher standard, credibility is key. Police must lead by example. Credibility is like sweet water in the desert, held in cupped hands. Open your fingers, and it spills onto the sand, gone forever.

Of course as a human institution a police service will not be perfect, though it must be better.

The Surrey Police Service is tasked with proving itself, to the public it will serve, that it will be better than the RCMP detachment it is set to replace.

Unfortunately to date, this fledgling police service, even before its first patrol, is failing to demonstrate it has the right stuff to replace the RCMP with a superior service given it thus far has proven to be a reliable source of drama. Keystone Cops, without the humour.

READ ALSO: Does anyone really know when Surrey RCMP’s contract expires?

READ ALSO: Surrey Police Service confirms there is truth to allegations new inspector drove impaired

Problems began straight out of the gate. Shortly after council unanimously voted to replace the RCMP with a city-made police force, lack of transparency over costs and other logistics led to a schism on council that saw four of nine members turn on the project. In the spring of 2019, after months of criticism that residents were being kept in the dark about the costs and design of the new police force, Surrey residents en-masse voiced their disappointment with a series of ‘public engagement’ meetings staged by the city. This frustration was aimed not only at city hall but ultimately at the provincial government as well, and endures to the present.

Against this backdrop of mistrust, the Surrey Police Board was formed in June 2020. Four months after its first meeting, in December, board member Harley Chappell rejects calls to resign after it is revealed he was photographed with members of the Hells Angels in 2018, bringing into question the vetting process. Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth admitted posting that photo on social media was “not the wisest thing to do.”

Then, Chief Constable Norm Lipinski in February 2021 took a drubbing for arranging for a PR firm to be paid $42,000, when he was deputy chief of the Delta Police, to deal with the outfall resulting from a dispute involving his boss’s wife.

Then, that same month, Bob Rolls, a Surrey police board member who was on the governance and finance committee, resigned seven months into his term to move to Vancouver Island.

The latest stink rising out of this policing transition hit the media last Thursday, when it was revealed one of the Surrey Police Service’s latest hires – Inspector Jeff Metcalfe, leaving his job as Divisional Duty Officer, BC-RCMP Criminal Operations to join Surrey’s new city police force –recently came off a 90-day driving prohibition for being impaired behind the wheel, once again bringing into question the vetting process.

My goodness, these guys should have their own show on HBO.

What’s next? Stay tuned.

If the Surrey Police Service wants to prove itself as a worthy successor to the Surrey RCMP, it really needs to get its act together.

So let it be done.

Tom Zytaruk is a staff reporter with the Now-Leader. Email him at tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com

Policesurrey rcmpzytaruk column so let it be done

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 she 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