McDonald said it's a decision he didn't take lightly. The move comes at a challenging time for the country's largest RCMP detachment, as Surrey is transitioning to a municipal police force.
Surreys top cop moving on to provincial RCMP post amid police transition
"I have to admit this was not an easy decision for me. I love policing in this city," he said.
"I'm very mindful that some may view my departure as a harbinger of policing transition … I want to ensure you this is unequivocally not the case."
The city aims to complete the switch by 2021. Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum successfully campaigned in 2018 on a promise to replace the RCMP with an independent force, though the issue has created discord within city council and residents since.
The announcement comes just days after McDonald, while speaking at the 23rd Annual Surrey RCMP awards, lashed out at the detachment’s critics and those who have publicly disparaged its officers while calling for a civic police force.
While McDonald has been known to openly disagree with the mayor's plan, he said his views on the transition played no role in his decision to leave and he is confident the police force is in good hands.
"I have no issues with the mayor," he said. "Sometimes we have differences of opinion, like I do with many people."
RCMP Deputy Commissioner Jennifer Strachan said in a statement the City of Surrey and local RCMP "are fully engaged" in finding a replacement for McDonald "as soon as possible, to ensure the least amount of disruption to members, staff and the community."
McDonald has been an RCMP officer for more than 30 years and stepped into the police chief role with Surrey RCMP in 2016.
He has worked with the Gang Task Force, Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit B.C. (CFSEU-BC) and the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team. He is expected to stay in his current role in the city until a successor is chosen.
“As your local police force, we have an implicit contract with you, the public, that says you trust in our ability to objectively and professionally maintain the rule of law,” he said.
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Asst. Commr. Dwayne McDonald, officer-in-charge of Surrey RCMP, will head up the RCMPs criminal operations unit, overseeing federal investigations and organized crime in B.C.
Asst. Commr. Dwayne McDonald will leave the Surrey RCMP to head up the RCMP's criminal operations unit, overseeing federal investigations and organized crime in B.C. Gerry Kahrmann / PNG
Asst. Commissioner Dwayne McDonald, officer-in-charge of the Surrey RCMP, will head up the RCMP’s criminal operations unit, overseeing federal investigations and organized crime in B.C. The role was recently vacated by the retirement of Asst. Commissioner Kevin Hackett.
In his new role, McDonald will continue to work alongside the Surrey RCMP and other communities across B.C. to investigate financial and cyber crime, money laundering, national security, major crime and gangs.
“While I look forward to taking on this challenging and exciting new portfolio, I must admit this was not an easy decision for me to make,” McDonald said in a statement. “My past three years as the officer in charge of the Surrey detachment have been the most interesting and engaging in my career.”
Surrey RCMP Assistant Commissioner Dwayne McDonald was on hand to unveil a forfeited Range Rover SUV that police will have at their disposal to fight gang crime in Surrey, at Queen Elizabeth Secondary School Thursday, February 1, 2018. Jason Payne / PNG
Surrey’s policing has been a hot topic in recent months, with Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum promising to bring in a municipal police force to replace the RCMP, citing increased gang activity in Surrey.
In his statement, McDonald assured citizens and the RCMP team that his departure wasn’t indicative of what’s to come in Surrey’s policing transition plan.
“As it stands right now, the City of Surrey’s contract for RCMP policing services has not been terminated,” his statement read. “The province of B.C. has put in place a robust and objective process to study the City of Surrey’s proposal for a municipal police force, and I am confident that their decision on this matter will be fully informed.”
Deputy Commissioner Jennifer Strachan, head of the B.C. RCMP, said a replacement was being actively sought to fill McDonald’s role, and that there would be minimal disruption to the force and community members.