BY RATTAN MALL
FORMER attorney general Wally Oppal, chair of the joint transition committee for the formation of a Surrey police force, on Friday told The VOICE that their committee had “a very productive meeting,” adding, “so we are moving along.”
The committee discussed a lot of issues like the establishment of police boards, the selection of police chiefs and recruitment policies.
Oppal pointed out: “We are building a police department right from scratch and so that’s going to take some time and what we need to do is [to get] a police board together. It will be up to the police board to select the police chief and the police chief will then decide on a recruitment policy. They will have to decide how many uniform officers they need, but they are going to need in excess of 800.”
However, nothing has been finalized.
On Thursday, Oppal had told me that the City of Surrey team had not attended the last meetings.
He said: “We wanted to work together but the Surrey team wanted to work on their own and tell us what they want in a new police force.”
Oppal added: “It’s moving along except for that. We lost some time when they decided to work on their own. But they are working on their own and we’ll see [on Friday] what progress they’re making.”
There are three independent advisers on the committee, including former police chiefs and an accountant and the Province has appointed two of its representatives. The City of Surrey has three representatives, including a criminologist and a couple of police officers.
Oppal also pointed out on Thursday: “My job is to keep the sides together and to move forward. This is very complex. We have to establish a Police Board and then the Police Board will advertise for a police chief. Then a recruitment policy will have to be established and what type of police force they want. So it takes time to do that and our job is to make sure that whatever research we do will comply with the Police Act and then it will be up to the [Public Safety] Minister [Mike Farnworth] to decide whether to ultimately grant the authority.”
He added: “Right now the minister has said that ‘you’ve done enough to open the gate.’ So we are moving towards that. What happens is, at the end of the day, we have to establish enough evidence to show that we’ve met the standards under the Police Act. We have to ensure that the public safety standards of the City of Surrey are maintained. That’s what our job is that during this time – that they maintain public security and public safety.”