Surrey city Councillor Brenda Locke is calling on Mayor Doug McCallum to re-instate the long-standing Public Safety Committee now that the provincial government is overseeing the city’s transition from the RCMP to a made-in-Surrey police force.
“I would call on the mayor to resurrect the Public Safety Committee because Mr. Oppal is going to be the one involved with the transition and not politicians, certainly not Surrey politicians,” Locke told the Now-Leader.
McCallum in July dissolved the Public Safety Committee, on which every council member sat, and replaced it with a Police Transition Advisory Committee comprised of himself and the four remaining Safe Surrey Coalition councillors Laurie Guerra, Mandeep Nagra, Allison Patton and Doug Elford.
Excluded were Councillors Jack Hundial – who served with the Surrey RCMP for 25 years – Steven Pettigrew, Locke, and sole Surrey First Councillor Linda Annis, who also serves as the executive director of Crime Stoppers.
“What’s the point of the transition team now, because that’s been all replaced by a provincial transition team,” Locke remarked.
Last month, provincial Public Safety Minister and Attorney General Mike Farnworth gave Surrey’s intention to set up its own police force a thumb’s up and appointed Oppal – a former B.C. Supreme Court judge and attorney general – to head a joint transition committee to oversee the plan’s progress.
“I was opposed in the first place to them cancelling the public safety committee,” Locke said, “because public safety is not just about the police, it’s about fire, it’s about what’s going on in the street, it’s about all kinds of issues, it’s about how we’re dealing with youth and challenges there, it’s about do we have the right kinds of roads, it’s about all of those.
“Public safety is all-encompassing,” she said. “Policing is one component of it.”
The Now-Leader’s requests for comment from McCallum was answered with this reply from city staff, attributed to the mayor: “We will be continuing with the Police Transition Advisory Committee, with no plans to dissolve.”
His reply did not address if the Public Safety Committee will remain consigned to the history books.