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War of words breaks out as Surrey mayor claims ‘red tape’ holding up new police force

Police at the scene of a shooting on Fraser Highway on Sept. 28, 2019. Ted Field

Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum is linking the latest fatal daylight shooting in his city to his push for a new Surrey Police Department (SPD), and is accusing the province of dragging its heels on the transition.

Doug McCallum said he believes more innocent people will be caught in the crossfire, amid what appears to be an escalation in the shooting war between low-level drug dealers in Surrey.

READ MORE: Province takes control of Surrey police transition while giving green light

Since Saturday’s targeted hit at a gas station in Clayton Heights, McCallum said he’s been hearing a renewed call from constituents to get the new department up and running.

“The government is trying to put far too much red tape into it and slowing the whole process down when our community wants to speed it up and get our own police force out on our streets,” claimed McCallum.

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WATCH: Province takes control of Surrey police transition

Click to play video: 'Province takes control of Surrey police transition' Province takes control of Surrey police transition
Province takes control of Surrey police transition – Aug 23, 2019

But McCallum’s strong words were not universally well-received.

READ MORE: Surrey councillor says police transition report calls to cut mental health outreach team in half

Former attorney general Wally Oppal, who is heading up the provincial board established to manage the transition from the RCMP to the new SPD, fired back, saying McCallum has it all wrong.

“There is absolutely no bureaucratic red tape, none,” said Oppal.

WATCH: Farnworth explains joint task force for Surrey police transition

Click to play video: 'Farnworth explains joint task force for Surrey police transition' Farnworth explains joint task force for Surrey police transition
Farnworth explains joint task force for Surrey police transition – Aug 22, 2019

“Surrey knows what’s needed to do this. In fact the Surrey team has cancelled the last two meetings. So they haven’t gone ahead at Surrey’s request.”

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Surrey Coun. Jack Hundial, who split with McCallum’s Safe Surrey Coalition over the policing transition, said on a project of this size the province needs to act carefully.

READ MORE: Surrey police report is ‘troubling’ after in-depth look, says Surrey First councillor

“It’s the minister who needs to sign off on this, and as he signs off he needs to be rest assured he’s leaving Surrey in a better place with a new police force.”

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth has previously said he respects Surrey’s decision to transition to a municipal force, but that the change would require “substantial work” and that the province would not sign off on the final plan until all safety concerns were addressed.

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