The war of words over Surrey’s police transition continued Monday, with B.C.’s solicitor general accusing the city of pulling out of key meetings.
Mike Farnworth made the comments Monday, while giving an update on the work of the administrator appointed earlier this month to take over the city’s transition from the Surrey RCMP to the Surrey Police Service.
Former Abbotsford police chief Mike Serr, who has taken over operations of the city’s police board, has been meeting regularly with both the RCMP and the SPS, Farnworth said.
“Unfortunately the city has not been participating. Every meeting that has been scheduled they have either cancelled or failed to participate,” Farnworth alleged.
The minister said city representatives had previously been involved in the process, but that their participation had dropped off noticeably after Serr was appointed to manage the transition.
“It’s also unfortunate too, because I know the mayor has complained that with the administrator in place there is no input from the city, no city representation,” he said. “The reality is if the city staff were participating there most certainly would be participation and input from the City of Surrey.”
In a statement, the City of Surrey said it has and continues to meet all its requirements as laid out in the Police Act.
“The responsibility for the transition was recently transferred from the provincially appointed Surrey Police Board, to a provincially appointed administrator,” Peter German, K.C., wrote on behalf of the city. “As in any other jurisdiction in BC, City staff are not directly responsible for the administration of policing.”
Farnworth suspended the entirety of the police board’s membership, including Surrey Mayor Brenda Locke, on Nov. 16, saying the move was necessary due to the lack of progress on the police transition.
That move followed legislation unveiled in October to mandate the city complete the transition, despite opposition from Locke who was elected on a pledge to keep the RCMP.
Locke has also spearheaded an effort on behalf of the city to fight the transition in court.
Farnworth said Serr is expected to deliver a key update on Surrey police budget information to city council on Nov. 30.