Some Surrey RCMP officers could end up in northern B.C., as the city transitions to the new Surrey Police Service. (Black Press Media file photo)

Some Surrey RCMP officers could end up in northern B.C., as the city transitions to the new Surrey Police Service. (Black Press Media file photo)

Surrey RCMP officers could fill northern B.C. vacancies

New Surrey police force begins to replace Mounties

Vacancies at RCMP detachments throughout the north and elsewhere could be filled by officers from Surrey as that city’s new police force begins to assume law and order duties.

Not every one of the approximately 800 RCMP officers normally posted at the Surrey detachment will move over to the new Surrey police force and it has already been hiring officers from a wide variety of forces.

The Surrey RCMP detachment is the largest in Canada and the federal police force has been policing the city since 1951 but that is now coming to an end thanks to a commitment made by current mayor Doug McCallum during his successful mayoral bid in 2018.

Approximately 100 Surrey police officers are now on the city’s payroll of which 50 are expected to begin patrols in concert with RCMP officers by the end of November as a transition period of several years gets underway.

Just how many Surrey RCMP officers might be moving on to fill holes at other detachments isn’t yet known but a transition plan is to be ready the end of this year, says Corporal Madonna Saunderson who speaks for the police force in northern B.C.

“The plan is for a coordinated and phased approach that will align the movement out of RCMP members with the movement in of Surrey Police Service police officers. Vacancies, promotions and career preferences will be assessed as part of that process,” said Saunderson.

“It is likely that staffing any vacancies will be no different that the existing processes. If there is a vacancy it is identified through our staffing processes and the positions are filled either through lateral transfers or promotions,” she said.

“The only difference being that the demobilized Surrey RCMP members would be available to apply for those positions.”

In the meantime, three officers in Terrace (with a fourth expected in December) are part of a provincial support team filling temporary vacancies at detachments when their own officers are on leave, away for training or when permanent replacements have yet to arrive.

These officers have primarily filled holes at smaller to mid-sized detachments in locations such as Dease Lake, Atlin, Houston and Lisims-Nass Valley, Saunderson said.

The Terrace-based support officer team was created in 2019 and its need was featured in lobbying by northwestern local governments for more police officers.

Members of Terrace city council were initially told these officers would be sent to Terrace when they met with provincial public safety minister Mike Farnworth that year.

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