Surrey’s top cop is moving on to a larger role within the RCMP amid the city’s contentious transition to a civic police force.
In a statement Wednesday, the RCMP said Officer in Charge of the Surrey RCMP Asst. Comm. Dwayne McDonald has been selected to become the RCMP’s criminal operations officer in charge of federal, investigative services and organized crime for B.C.
The RCMP said McDonald will continue to serve Surrey and other municipalities in his new role, which he was selected for due to his experience with gang enforcement and homicide investigation over his 31-year career.
“I would like to ensure everyone, that the BC RCMP, the Lower Mainland District Office and the City of Surrey are fully engaged in the process of seeking a replacement for … McDonald as soon as possible to ensure the least amount of disruption to members, staff and the community,” Dep. Comm. Jennifer Strachan, B.C. RCMP’s commanding officer, said in a statement.
The announcement comes just days after McDonald, while speaking at the 23rd Annual Surrey RCMP awards, lashed out at the detachment’s critics and those who have publicly disparaged its officers while calling for a civic police force.
“If I have to listen to one more ex-chief of police on life support or some fallen-from-grace former public official with an axe to grind or an uninformed academic call into question the integrity and professionalism and dedication of the men and women of the Surrey RCMP, I am going to snap,” McDonald told the crowd last week.
In his own statement Wednesday, McDonald said his career transition is not related to the city’s policing transition, which is still being reviewed by a task force made up of provincial and municipal leaders.
“I am mindful that some may view my departure as a harbinger of policing transition in Surrey,” McDonald said.
“I want to assure both the citizens of Surrey and the Surrey RCMP team that this is unequivocally not the case. As it stands right now, the City of Surrey’s contract for RCMP policing services has not been terminated.”
McDonald also assured residents the Surrey RCMP’s senior team remains in place to ensure no interruptions to policing in the city. He added he will continue to lead the detachment until a successor is named.
“As your local police force, we have an implicit contract with you, the public, that says you trust in our ability to objectively and professionally maintain the rule of law,” he said.
“Your support and constructive criticism have made me a better officer and made Surrey a better place.”
McDonald has served as Officer in Charge of the Surrey RCMP since 2016.
In June 2018, he wrote an open letter to the city after a trio of innocent civilians were killed in apparently gang-related incidents.
In that letter, McDonald acknowledged the work of the Surrey RCMP was under the microscope amid escalating gang violence, but defended the detachment’s policing model.
— With files from Simon Little