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Surrey RCMP conducting internal review after supervisor slams unit’s performance

South Community Response Unit blasted for demonstrating ‘inability to perform the basic foundations of policing 101’
File photo: Anna Burns

The Surrey RCMP is conducting an internal review after a police supervisor’s memo slammed the South Community Response Unit for having “demonstrated their inability to perform the basic foundations of policing 101.”

Staff Sgt. Jag Saran’s March 2 email, obtained by Global News, reads that he implemented a “reset” to the South CRU team. “We need to start from the basics, and make sure we demonstrate a sound knowledge of the basics of police work,” it reads.

Meantime, the team’s surveillance privileges have been suspended nor can the unit work undercover or drive unmarked cars.

Public Safety Minister and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth, in an interview with Global, confirmed an internal review is underway. “It’s very concerning and it’s very disturbing and it undermines public confidence in policing,” Farnworth said. “The public needs to have confidence that when police are out on patrol or doing their duty out in the community that they are obeying the laws, they’re following the procedures.”

“It starts with an internal review and there may be other consequences that flow from that,” Farnworth told Global.

What precipitated Saran’s email concerning the unit’s performance, the staff sergeant’s email indicates, were “throughout the year, there have been many incidents where there have been obvious breaches of law and policy” which resulted in “many charges being stayed, or not approved” as well as members not demonstrating the proper application of law and policy during traffic stops and investigations.”

Moreover, his email states, “With the number of collisions and officer safety concerns documented in the past year, I have expressed my concern with the teams to ensure we do things right: follow the law and policy and keep each other safe. Our recent incident resulted in two vehicles being written off, four minor injuries, and property damage that the RCMP are on the hook for.

“It may be the cost of doing business but, when you look at the big picture, was it worth putting each other at risk of serious bodily harm and risking public safety?”

Const. Sarbjit Sangha, of the Surrey RCMP’s media section, told the Now-Leader on Thursday that a “preliminary” review has yet to establish if any police actions resulted in stays in proceedings or charges not being approved on account of breaches in policy or law.

“There is no information to date that indicates that this is anything more than inconsistencies in training or procedural awareness,” Sangha added. “Prior to any determination being made by the ongoing review, a unit supervisor shared internal correspondence with members following the incident. The messaging contained some broad statements, which were made out of frustration and concern.”

Sangha noted that in late February members of the South Community Response Unit tried to stop a vehicle that was being driven “erratically” and it rammed a police vehicle as it left the scene. The suspect was arrested and faces charges of assaulting a peace officer and dangerous driving.

An internal review, she said, was initiated “as per standard practice” and “this process is part of our daily and regular operations at the detachment.”

Surrey Mayor Brenda Locke said she has spoken with Assistant Commissioner Brian Edwards, officer in charge of the Surrey RCMP, on the matter but declined to comment while the investigation is underway.

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About the Author: Tom Zytaruk

I write unvarnished opinion columns and unbiased news reports for the Surrey Now-Leader.
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