It appears Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum is moving quickly to begin the transition from the RCMP to a city police force.
McCallum said Terry Waterhouse has been appointed as the general manager to head the transition.
Waterhouse, a familiar face at city hall, is the city’s general manager of public safety and helped lead the initiative to move the homeless off the Whalley Strip in the summer.
He said his first order of business is to seek clarity from other levels of government “on what it is they’d be looking for in the transition plan and then ensuring we put a plan together that meets our needs and the needs of other levels of government.”
WATCH: Former crime chief named head of Surrey police transition team
When asked if he feels the move can be done in two years, as McCallum has suggested, Waterhouse said, “the legislation itself gives us that two-year window and so it’s our estimation that that is an accurate description of how long the transition will take. It will take a very comprehensive plan and over two years we believe it can be done.
“We’ll work back from the two-year goal and build a timeline that allows it to happen in that type of time frame.”
On Tuesday, former Delta police chief Jim Cessford noted that since Surrey is divided into “quadrants” from a policing standpoint, he would advise rolling out an independent police force gradually—beginning in quadrants with lower crime rates.
LISTEN: Surrey’s mayor has named a senior manager who will lead the transition to a city police force from the RCMP:
Waterhouse said on Wednesday that he values Cessford’s input, but decisions on an operational police model have not been made.
He said there has also been no decisions on a ratio of police officers to members of the public.
“The ratio is not really the issue,” he said. “Having an effective police model is what’s important. There’s a lot of emphasis put on that ratio, but ensuring that you resource your policing model with the appropriate resources…is what’s really important going forward.”
McCallum said Waterhouse’s experience in the criminal justice system and recent tenure as general manager of public safety positions him well to lead the transition planning.
Rasode, however, has concerns.
“What I see here is that we have a competent academic bureaucrat, but what we really need at the helm is a law enforcement official who has years of experience who may have been a part of both the RCMP and the municipal force,” she said.
WATCH: Surrey council votes to scrap LRT and the RCMP in inaugural meeting
“I do think it’s too big of a load to hand somebody like Terry Waterhouse, who I think is completely capable, but this job is much bigger than any of the experience he has. So I think it’s sort of setting him up for failure.”
On November 5, Surrey city council unanimously approved a motion to begin work on creating a municipal police department, and serve notice to the provincial and federal governments that the City will be terminating its contract with the RCMP.
McCallum has said he’s confident the province and RCMP will continue to work with Surrey to make the change as seamless as possible.