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Surrey Police Service hires province’s former top policing bureaucrat to aid transition

Wayne Rideout spent more than six years in the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General and recently oversaw policing in the province
The Surrey Police Service is in the process of taking over the policing duties of the Surrey RCMP

The Surrey Police Service (SPS) has hired Wayne Rideout, the province’s former head of police services, to help the service take over the duties of the Surrey RCMP.

Ian MacDonald, the media liaison for the SPS, said Thursday that Rideout was contracted for three months at $175 per hour to assist with the continuation of the policing transition.

“We believe that Mr. Rideout’s experience as the former assistant deputy minister and director of police services for B.C.’s Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General in addition to his 34-year policing career will assist us greatly,” MacDonald said. “Given Minister [Mike] Farnworth’s July 19 decision on policing in Surrey, we believe Mr. Rideout will provide meaningful contributions to the important next steps.”

Rideout spent more than six years in the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General. From December 2020 to January 2023, he was the top bureaucrat overseeing policing in the province, reporting to Farnworth.

“I was responsible for the superintendence of policing in the province as well as the development and implementation of policy, legislation and the alignment of the RCMP and the province’s independent police agencies to address public safety challenges and crisis,” reads Rideout’s LinkedIn profile. "I worked to [ensure] public confidence in law enforcement and to modernize policing to meet evolving performance and accountability expectations.”

In addition to managing the province’s RCMP contracts, Rideout played a role in reversing a Vancouver Police Department budget freeze in early 2022 after an appeal from the police board. Rideout’s decision restored $5.7 million in funding after a December 2020 city council decision amid the “defund the police” movement.

More than two months ago, Farnworth directed City of Surrey to replace the RCMP detachment with the municipal force. Farnworth reiterated the NDP government’s pledge to pay the estimated $30 million increased annual cost of the SPS for the first five years.

Farnworth cited section 2 of the Police Act, which requires adequate and effective law enforcement be maintained throughout the province, and claimed that stopping the transition would leave other communities understaffed.

He also announced the hiring of Jessica McDonald as “strategic implementation adviser” to facilitate the transition.

Despite Farnworth’s order, Mayor Brenda Locke said in a recent interview that there is no detailed plan to proceed with the SPS. She said she told Premier David Eby at the recent Union of B.C. Municipalities convention that the city is in an “untenable position.”

Surrey’s 2018-elected city council under former mayor Doug McCallum decided to switch police forces, but 2022 successor Locke’s majority council voted to keep the RCMP.

Rideout began his policing career with the RCMP in 1982 and one of his first stops as a general duty officer was Surrey. He reached the level of assistant commissioner in 2012 in charge of criminal operations, investigative services and organized crime.

During his tenure as the officer in charge of the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team from 2003 to 2008, Rideout refused to let the public information officer correct the record when an eyewitness video emerged of the taser death of Polish tourist Robert Dziekanski at Vancouver International Airport. A coroner’s court heard in 2018 that the decision sent Sgt. Pierre Lemaitre into a tailspin and he eventually died in 2013 of suicide.