The man leading the transition team to bring a municipal police force to Surrey is taking issue with the mayor of Surrey’s claims that red-tape is holding up the process.
"There's no red tape. This is a difficult job, establishing this from the ground up," Wally Oppal told CTV News Vancouver by phone Tuesday morning. "There's a lot of difficult work to do and there’s no quick fix for any of it."
Oppal says the representatives on the team from Surrey had asked for postponements, saying they weren't ready for meetings Sept. 26 and Sept 19.
The transition team, including those from the City of Surrey, have only met once all together since the policing transition team was established, according to Oppal.
"It helps to have Surrey in the room because we want to know what their wants are," Oppal explained. "We want to work with them."
Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum released a statement Monday in response to a deadly Saturday shooting at a Clayton Heights gas station that killed one man.
"The community believes now, more than ever, that we need to work as quickly as possible to get (Surrey Police Department) officers out on the streets. The lack of progress to date is disappointing and is unfortunately due to bureaucratic red tape," part of the statement reads.
McCallum was asked about the issue during a public skating event Monday afternoon and expressed more frustration with the process.
"There’s a whole bunch of sub-committees that have been formed by the government, I think there’s seven of them, and they’re stacked with ex-RCMP officers. We are saying no, we don't need more committees," McCallum told reporters. "We don’t want to get caught in a lot of meetings that will delay the project."
Surrey’s mayor says he is frustrated with “bureaucratic red tape” when it comes to transitioning the city’s police force.
But the widow of an innocent murder victim, Darlene Bennett, fears there is no focus on the crime happening now. https://t.co/RTTQDZJQtt@CTVVancouver pic.twitter.com/VYLXFYWHVd
The province announced in August the city could move ahead with the possible switch from RCMP, and created a joint team chaired by Oppal, who is a former Attorney General.
The goal is to have a municipal police force running in Surrey by Spring 2021.
"I think that’s unfortunate that our city and people that have been working on this have been no-shows," Coun. Brenda Locke told CTV News Tuesday when asked about Surrey’s absence at the last two meetings.
Darlene Bennett, whose husband Paul Bennett was shot in a deadly case of mistaken identity in Surrey in 2018 accused the mayor of putting politics ahead of public safety during an interview on Monday.
"Crime isn’t going to wait for his police transition plan. That could be two years down the road,” Bennett told CTV News. “We need action now and he hasn’t done anything, nothing. And that’s unacceptable to me.”
CTV News reached out to The City of Surrey for further details on why the city was absent from the two September meetings, but has not yet received a response.