Ask the Surrey RCMP

New Q&A column connects citizens with police.

The Leader and the Surrey RCMP are launching a new Q&A column where police officers from the Surrey detachment will answer questions submitted by Leader readers.

“We know that you have questions about policing – whether it be a question about a specific law, how to protect yourself, or how we respond to certain calls. Together with The Leader, we will endeavour to answer your questions so the entire community can have a better understanding of how the police and residents can work together to reduce crime in their neighbourhoods,” said Chief Supt. Bill Fordy, Officer in Charge of the Surrey RCMP.

You asked:

Is it legal for Surrey RCMP officers to use their laptops and cellphones while they are driving? If so why? If not, we have a real problem.

– Rob Brown

RCMP answers:

Emergency personnel (including police, fire, and ambulance)are exempt from the ban on using electronic devices while driving. Under the British Columbia Motor Vehicle Act, this exemption applies if a police officer is using the device “while they are carrying out their powers, duties, or functions.”

To do their job effectively, officers need access to the most current information, which includes information from radios, in-car laptops and mobile phones. Whenever possible, officers will wait until they are stopped before using any electronic devices.

The exemption to the law does not mean that first responders are necessarily better at balancing the demands of driving with the distractions of electronic devices than other drivers; it just means that, in some circumstances, the risk of an officer using an electronic device while driving may be less than the risk of that officer showing up at a crime scene without vital or accurate information.

You can find more information on the exemption under Section 214.3 of the Motor Vehicle Act. If you are concerned about a police officer using an electronic device inappropriately while driving, please contact the Surrey RCMP’s Professional Standards Unit.

– Sgt. Paul Hayes

You asked:

What is the legality of pop-up (drug and alcohol) recovery homes and what are the laws or bylaws that are in place for them? What is the RCMP’s stance on pop-up recovery homes in our neighbourhoods?

We are members of our neighbourhood Block Watch and we had an email fan out that requested us to do our due diligence and inform the RCMP of such suspected activity. The information I have gathered from talking to people is that some of these pop-up recovery homes are legal while others are not. I would like as much info as I can regarding what the laws are in regards to these homes.

– Yvonne Wright

RCMP answers:

According to City of Surrey bylaws, recovery homes in the city are only permitted if they are registered and funded by the appropriate provincial or federal authority. Non-registered homes are not permitted and are subject to immediate enforcement action by the City of Surrey.

The Surrey RCMP works with bylaws and Fire Services to enhance public safety by addressing high-risk locations in our city. These include locations such as clandestine drug labs, drug cache sites, crack houses, marijuana growing operations and unregulated recovery homes. Typically these locations have a number of issues that are of concern to each agency, including criminal activity, violation of fire safety regulations and/or occupancy violations.

In 2014 under the city’s High Risk Location Initiative, more than 250 recovery homes, problem premises and illegal rooming houses were either boarded up or demolished by Surrey’s bylaw department and its partners, including the Surrey RCMP.

If you have any questions or concerns about whether a recovery home is operating legally, please contact Surrey bylaws at 604-591-4370 or

If you are concerned about criminal activity at one of these locations, contact the Surrey RCMP’s non-emergency number at 604-599-0502. Residents play an important role in keeping Surrey safe and we encourage you and your Block Watch to continue to report all crime and suspicious activity.

– Sgt. Paul Hayes

You can send your law enforcement-related question to

We ask that you keep your queries brief and to the point. Please note  the Surrey RCMP is unable to speak to any ongoing files. Questions that are selected will be published online and in an upcoming print edition of The Leader.




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