Surrey mayor-elect doubles down on plan to disband municipal police force

Surrey’s mayor-elect, Brenda Locke, is trying to keep the RCMP in Surrey, and has plans to disband the Surrey Police Service. But Melissa Granum, executive director with the SPS, explains why the force won't likely be pushed out. Angela Bower reports.

Less than a day after winning the election for mayor of Surrey, Brenda Locke is already looking at disbanding the much-debated Surrey Police Service (SPS).

The mayor-elect told CityNews on Sunday morning she’s already had conversations with staff on how to move forward with pausing the municipal force.

“We have to make those plans quickly,” she said. “I’ve already had two meetings this morning about that very issue and we will continue down that path.”

In the aftermath of his loss, Doug McCallum said the decision on policing will ultimately come from the province, suggesting the process may be too far along. But Locke remained firm on her stance to keep the RCMP in Surrey.

“Mr. McCallum is just wrong. He’s been wrong on a number of fronts, but he is just wrong on that one,” she said, adding she’s already been in contact with BC Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth about it.

Surrey Police Service continuing rollout despite election results

Meanwhile, the Surrey Police Board, for which Locke will sit as chair, says it has yet to hear from the new mayor-elect.

“We do look forward to the opportunity to brief her on her role as board chair in the status of the transition. We also can’t speculate or presuppose what the province might say if the new council requests a reversal,” the board’s executive director, Melissa Granum told CityNews.

“All we can do is continue to focus on our work and trust that the original decision was not made lightly and was certainly not made with the anticipation that it would become an election issue every four years,” she said.

Granum says there are over 350 staff hired for the SPS, including 150 officers, along with agreements in place to establish police unions. The RCMP is still the primary police force serving Surrey until the SPS completes its rollout.

“We’re working on a daily basis with all three levels of government, federal, provincial and local in order to get SPS to police jurisdiction, and that requires a number of steps and meeting BC policing standards and the staff at SPS are working closely with the provincial staff on a daily basis to achieve police jurisdiction status,” she said.

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In a release, the SPS says it is also “looking forward” to working with the new mayor and council after Saturday’s election.

“While SPS understands that not all members of the newly elected City Council are supportive of the policing transition, and specifically the process undertaken by the previous council to change Surrey’s policing model, we reiterate that SPS is focused on public safety, not politics,” the release said.

In February 2020, the B.C. government approved Surrey’s request to roll out a municipal police force after the city moved to terminate its agreement with the RCMP to police the city.

With files from Martin MacMahon.

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