The City of Surrey has tapped its general manager of public safety, Terry Waterhouse, to oversee the city’s transition from the Surrey RCMP to its own municipal force.
Waterhouse was hired in 2015 as the city’s first director of public safety strategies. His new title will be general manager of policing transition.
Mayor Doug McCallum said in a news release that Waterhouse’s background in policing and criminology, and his experience with the city make him “well suited” to lead the transition.
“Terry’s expertise and ability to work with government partners, the RCMP and other external partners will ensure that the transition will be made as smoothly and as quickly as possible,” said McCallum. “I am confident that the province and the RCMP will continue to work with us to make this change as seamless and as quickly as possible for the benefit of all the residents in Surrey.”
Last week, at its inaugural meeting, Surrey council unanimously passed a motion that directed staff to immediately create a Surrey Police Department and notify the federal and provincial governments that the city is ending its RCMP contract, and to take all appropriate steps to immediately create a Surrey Police Department in accordance with the B.C. Police Act.
One of McCallum and Safe Surrey Coalition’s key campaign promises was to get rid of the RCMP in favour of a municipal force governed by a local police board.
In spite of expert opinions that the switch will be time consuming and costly, McCallum has said he expects it can be completed in two years, and at minimal cost to the city.
Waterhouse said he is moving quickly to put a transition team together.
“The task at hand is of utmost importance to the residents of Surrey and it is incumbent on us to have an orderly evolution of policing services for the city,” said Waterhouse.
In the wake of a fatal shooting in Newton last week, McCallum took the opportunity to reiterate his belief that Surrey needs to have its own police force, a move that drew the ire of B.C. RCMP Deputy Commissioner Brenda Butterworth-Carr, who said his statements “risk undermining public trust and confidence in policing.”
McCallum also suggested there was “resistance” from the province to Surrey’s transition, and urged the premier to “remove any road blocks at the provincial level.” This contradicted his statements from earlier in the week that he’d had “a really good meeting” with Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth. McCallum said Farnworth’s staff was planning to work with Surrey to create the transition plan.
In response to McCallum’s comments on resistance, Premier John Horgan reiterated that the province would work with Surrey.
“We need to have a plan. You can’t just get in front of a microphone and say, ‘Why haven’t you fixed this?’ It takes work and he knows that full well.”