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Two teams help Surrey RCMP address COVID-19

RCMP and Surrey Bylaw officers work together to educate people on provincial public health and safety orders related to COVID-19. Credit: City of Surrey


The Surrey RCMP has established two teams to help the detachment address the COVID-19 pandemic.

The COVID-19 Response Team ensures continuity of front-line police operations for the detachment while the COVID-19 Compliance and Enforcement Team is a partnership with Surrey Bylaw Services to provide education and check compliance with provincial health orders.

On the Compliance and Enforcement Team, RCMP and Surrey Bylaw officers conduct proactive outreach to businesses, faith centres and event spaces to educate citizens on the public health orders in place. The team follows up on reports of citizens ignoring physical distancing guidelines and proactively patrols popular areas like parks and beaches throughout the day.

"We have handouts for people to provide education on the public health orders and we really encourage the community to take responsibility," says S/Sgt. Winston Shorey, who usually leads the Surrey RCMP Community Response Unit and currently oversees the COVID-19 Compliance and Enforcement Team.

The team includes officers who work with the Community Response Unit and have built relationships with community members throughout their work.

"We've conducted more than 7,000 checks on a wide variety of business and locations and there's been very few incidents of non-compliance," says Shorey. "It's encouraging to see the vast majority of people complying with the health orders to help protect themselves, their families and their community."

Shorey says working together with Surrey Bylaw officers, who have an in-depth knowledge of local municipal regulations, has been tremendously valuable.

"This is a rapid and proactive response to an unprecedented situation," he says. "We have capitalized on our well-established relationship."

During a patrol, officers with the Compliance and Enforcement Team noticed suspicious vehicles with allegedly fake licence plates. While investigating one of the vehicles after a brief pursuit, officers recovered stolen property including $33,000 worth of stolen cheques and fraudulent identification.

An operational overview

The Surrey RCMP's COVID-19 Response Team monitors police operations and logistics to maintain front-line response capabilities. The team keeps an eye on day-to-day policing resources, tracks the supply of personal protective equipment and communicates with officers throughout the detachment.

The team also provides the detachment with a complete view of its current resources allowing for efficient planning and ensuring they're ready for any situation.

Surrey, with a population of over 500,000, hosts the RCMP's largest detachment meaning a lot of co-ordination goes into ensuring enough officers are patrolling the city's streets.

"One front-line watch in Surrey is as big as some other robust municipal detachments elsewhere," says S/Sgt. Tyner Gillies, who heads the operations centre within the Response Team.

If an officer falls ill or is potentially exposed to COVID-19, the Response Team has a plan to maintain services and keep the city safe.

The Response Team also works closely with policing and community partners, as well as the City of Surrey, to share ideas and resources.

"We were on conference calls throughout the day in the initial days to discuss how we can work together," says Gillies. "We've worked very symbiotically and will continue to do so as we move forward."

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