RCMP union calls for ‘clear and transparent’ transition plan for police officers

The City of Surrey has not yet said whether it will accept the additional money put on the table by the province to advance the police transition.

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The union representing 20,000 RCMP officers is calling for a “clear and transparent plan” to end the uncertainty that has plagued Surrey since the Mounties’ transition to a municipal police force began.

It comes after a dozen members of Surrey’s new police force alleged they were subjected to “intimidation, discrimination, harassment and intimidation” by the Mounties while working under the “hostile and toxic” Surrey RCMP detachment .

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The City of Surrey has not said publicly whether it is willing to accept the additional $110 million offered by the province to help with transition costs, on top of the $150 million that was previously on the table.

Brian Sauvé, president and CEO of the National Police Federation, said in a statement that he is concerned about “the possibility of another $110 million provincial cash injection for Surrey’s unwanted, costly and protracted police transition, which “It has become a point of frustration for our members and the public in Surrey.”

Sauvé said RCMP officers have endured “enough uncertainty, delays, political ploys and even confusion” by the British Columbia government and the Surrey Police Service (SPS).

“After more than five years, there is still no end in sight to the mounting costs to taxpayers at all levels of this protracted and disorganized transition,” he said. “There is also no end in sight for our members, who eagerly look forward to moving forward in their careers and caring for their families.”

Sauvé told Postmedia News that Surrey taxpayers and RCMP members deserve a “clear and transparent plan” for when the transition will be completed, along with the total cost.

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Postmedia requested an interview with Surrey Mayor Brenda Locke. A city spokeswoman said Locke has no updates to share.

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth was also unavailable for an interview, but a spokesperson sent a statement on behalf of the ministry saying: “There is an offer on the table and we hope to reach an agreement that works for the people of Surrey.” .

While the BC NDP government is not confirming the amount of the additional money, BC Abbotsford South Conservative MLA Bruce Banman raised the issue in the legislature earlier this month, citing a figure of $110 million.

The RCMP remains the police of jurisdiction during the transition and 220 SPS officers work under the supervision of the RCMP.

According to allegations made in a group complaint filed by the Surrey Police Union and cited in court documents, “the transition has been plagued by political gamesmanship, excessive delays and a toxic environment at the Surrey RCMP detachment.”

That’s according to an affidavit from SPS Sgt. Rick Stewart and filed in the BC Supreme Court on March 15 by the union’s lawyer, Sebastien Anderson.

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Stewart’s affidavit says the toxic environment has made it difficult to recruit and retain officials, and 36 union members have resigned.

Sauvé said the RCMP is waiting for an arbitrator to decide whether the national force should be considered a party to the complaint, since SPS officers are employees of the Surrey Police Board, not the RCMP.

“If the RCMP becomes involved in that complaint… well, then it would make sense for us (the National Police Federation), which represents members who have allegedly intimidated and harassed members of the Surrey Police Service, to ask to be included in that complaint.” complaint. , too, so that we could speak on behalf of those members,” he said.

Farnworth said in a statement that he is aware of the complaint and that Police Services Director Glen Lewis is monitoring the matter.

“I hope both SPS and RCMP officers continue to do the best they can as they work through a challenging and complicated transition,” he said.

Provincial policing standards “require police agencies to promote a respectful work environment and ensure processes are in place to address and resolve harassment complaints,” Farnworth said, adding that the RCMP is expected to meet those standards.

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The Surrey Police Union is seeking intervener status in the lawsuit brought by the city, asking the court to overturn the province’s decision to force the transition from the RCMP to the SPS. The hearing will begin April 29 at the Supreme Court of British Columbia in Vancouver. Judge Kevin Loo has not yet ruled on the union’s request to join the court case.

With files from Susan Lazaruk

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