May 28th, 2024

B.C. judge refuses to seal documents alleging RCMP bullying against Surrey police

By The Canadian Press on April 30, 2024.

A Surrey police department logo is seen on an officer's jacket in Surrey, B.C., Monday, Oct. 31, 2022. B.C. Supreme Court Justice Kevin Loo says court documents detailing alleged bullying and harassment of Surrey Police Service members by the RCMP shouldn't be kept from the public. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

VANCOUVER – B.C. Supreme Court Justice Kevin Loo says court documents detailing alleged bullying and harassment of Surrey Police Service members by the RCMP shouldn’t be kept from the public.

Loo refused to seal the material, saying allegations that are “sometimes justified and sometimes spurious,” are tendered every day in court.

His ruling came on the second day of a legal challenge by the City of Surrey against the B.C. Public Safety minister’s order to continue a transition from the RCMP to the municipal Surrey Police Service.

Lawyers for the ministry told Loo Monday that an affidavit filed by Surrey Police Union President Rick Stewart contains a “long list of bullying and harassment incidents” that if made public could cause “undue public concern about the state of affairs at the Surrey RCMP detachment.”

Stewart’s affidavit says union members claim “the Surrey RCMP detachment is toxic and hostile, and that they have been subject to bullying, discrimination, harassment, and intimidation.”

In a separate dispute, Surrey Mayor Brenda Locke has filed a complaint to B.C.’s Police Complaints Commissioner alleging numerous Surrey Police Service officers withdrew their services in order to meet with their chief and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth, something the Surrey Police Board has denied.

Locke says in a letter obtained by Global News that the meeting happened last Wednesday at about 3 p.m. and that the incident has “huge implications for public safety.”

The Surrey Police Board issued a statement in response saying it can confirm that a number of officers did attend the meeting with its chief and the solicitor general at its training centre.

However, the officers who were on shift were never ordered to attend nor withdrawn from service, the statement says, and on-duty officers had radios with them and were available for calls.

“Over the course of this policing transition, there have been a number of times when officers with SPS and the RCMP have needed to meet with their leadership team or their union to be briefed on significant developments,” the statement says.

The board says to “suggest that our officers would jeopardize the safety of Surrey residents to attend a meeting is not only disrespectful but hurtful.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 30, 2024

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