Former attorney general Wally Oppal. (Black Press Media files)

New police force in Surrey must avoid VPD, RCMP errors made in Pickton case: Oppal

Boots are scheduled to be on the ground by spring 2021

Avoiding miscommunication similar to what plagued the RCMP and Vancouver police during the Pickton murders is top of mind for the head of the new Surrey police force transition team.

Former attorney general Wally Oppal will head the joint transition committee that’s being established after the province green-lit the municipal Surrey force on Thursday.

“We know from our past experience, particularly when we did the [Robert] Pickton inquiry into missing and murdered women, it’s most important that police departments share information,” Oppal told reporters Thursday.

“That wasn’t done in all cases in Pickton… we want to ensure those mistakes are not repeated in the future.”

Oppal said this was an especially important task in Surrey, where gang violence can run rampant and stretch all across the region.

“We know that people who commit crimes don’t respect geographical boundaries, so I think that’s why one of our priorities will be to ensure there’s a real-time intelligence centre where information is shared,” Oppal said.

He pointed that when Robert Pickton was picking up and killing dozens of women in the Downtown Eastside, Vancouver police did not always share that information with Coquitlam RCMP who policed where Pickton lived.

“We knew a lot of the information regarding women missing in one jurisdiction wasn’t necessarily shared by police in another jurisdiction.”

The members of the committee Oppal will chair have not yet been revealed but will included representatives from both Surrey and the province.

Oppal said the “next major milestone is to establish a governing police board.”

That will be done via provincial legislation, he said, noting he could not give a date for its completion.

Overall, the boots on the ground deadline for the new Surrey force is April 1, 2021. Oppal could not comment on the transition committee’s budget.

Oppal, who has recommended a regional police force for Metro Vancouver in the past, said Thursday he did not thing a Surrey police force went counter to that goal.

“This could be the first step in a regional police force,” he said.

“The citizens of surrey are entitled to have their own police force.”

Other tasks for the transition committee include setting up recruitment and training plan, a collective agreement and a pension plan for the new Surrey police force, including a possible transition plan for current Surrey RCMP members who join the municipal department.

READ MORE: McCallum calls it a great and historic day as province approves Surrey’s policing plan

READ MORE: Province approves Surrey’s plan to establish municipal police force

READ MORE: Surrey reacts to policing plan getting the green light


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Coastal GasLink breaks ground on meter station in Kitimat

Meter station marks final point on pipeline that stretches from Northeast B.C.

Kitimat Council increasing mayor, councillor compensation after survey says they are “much lower than the B.C. average”

The pay raise was initially scheduled for April, but was put on hold for COVID-19 priorities.

In Our Valley: Joanne Havery

Havery was the food services manager at the Hirsch Creek Golf & Winter Club for 16 years.

Brucejack mine fatality identified

Patrick Critch was from Newfoundland

DFO says 5 aggrieved B.C First Nations were consulted on fisheries plan

Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations calls response ‘a sham,’ adding DFO never incorporates their views

Canucks ride momentum into NHL playoff series against defending Stanley Cup champs

PREVIEW: Vancouver opens against St. Louis on Wednesday

Pitt Meadows woman gives birth on in-laws’ driveway

Frédérique Gagnon new son is appropriately named after Norse trickster god

Man, 54, charged in connection with fatal attack of Red Deer doctor

Doctor was killed in his walk-in clinic on Monday

UPDATE: Two dead after fishing boat sinks off southern Vancouver Island

Shawnigan Lake-registered Arctic Fox II went down off Cape Flattery, west of Victoria

Landlord takes front door, windows after single B.C. mom late with rent

Maple Ridge mom gets help from community generosity and government

VIDEO: B.C. community rallies to save snared eagle

Revelstoke climber scales tree to save the raptor

42 more people test positive for COVID-19 in B.C.

The province has recorded no new deaths in recent days

Most Read