A Surrey Police Board member who has come under fire for posing for a photo with members of the Hells Angels has yet to find out how the provincial government will respond.
Mike Farnworth, provincial minister of public safety and solicitor general, told the Now-Leader on Monday that he’s asked his deputy minister and director of police services to look into the matter and get back to him, and “then I’ll have further information to say.” Asked if he shares the mayor’s concerns about perception, Farnworth said the posting of the photograph “was I think, you know, not the wisest thing to do. I think it was unfortunate.”
Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum is waiting on the provincial government to decide what, if anything, it will do in the wake of news that broke last week that board member Harley Chappell had posed for a photo with members of the Hells Angels.
“I did have some concerns with the perception of it,” McCallum told the Now-Leader on Friday. “I have talked to the ministry now and they are looking at it. It’s the B.C. government’s decision because they recruited him and they appointed him and so they now need to deal with that, so we will wait to see. They’re looking at it and we’ll wait and see what they come up with, probably fairly soon.”
Semiahmoo First Nation chief Chappell is on a nine-member board, chaired by McCallum, that’s tasked with shepherding into being the Surrey Police Service that’s set to replace the RCMP in this city. Chappell is chairman of the Surrey Police Board’s governance committee.
At Surrey council’s inaugural meeting on Nov. 5th, 2018 it served notice to the provincial and federal governments it is ending its contract with the RCMP – which has policed these parts since May 1, 1951 – to set up its own force.
Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth on Aug. 22, 2019 gave the city the go-ahead to pursue the plan and the police board was revealed this past June, with the lieutenant governor in council appointing seven community members under section 23(1)(c) of the Police Act, joining McCallum as chairman and Melissa Granum as executive director to create a board of nine.
Surrey Councillor Jack Hundial – a former RCMP staff sergeant and outspoken critic of Surrey’s ongoing transition from the RCMP to the Surrey Police Service – said the fact that Chappell is the son of a former Hells Angel raises questions about how thoroughly provincial appointments to the new board were vetted by B.C. public safety minister and solicitor general Mike Farnworth.
“What was the vetting process put into place?” he said. “That’s a good question not only for Farnworth but I think also for (new SPS chief) Norm Lipinski because he’s now the man that has to work with the police board.”
For his part, Chappel said his father left the Hells Angels when Chappell was a child, in 1992, and that he himself has “never been associated to the club in any way.”
Chappell said the pictures, originally shared on Facebook in 2018, were taken in August of that year at the funeral of Carla Newman, who he described as “the mother of a childhood friend.”
In the pictures, Chappell is seen standing with four other men, two of whom have been identified as White Rock Hells Angels Brent Milne and Douglas Riddoch. Newman has been described as a relative of former White Rock chapter member David Newman.
In his statement, Chappell said “any photos of me were with my father’s friends from his past.”
The next meeting of the police board will be on Tuesday, Dec. 15 at 4 p.m.
Meantime, Farnworth said he’s “absolutely” keeping an eye on maintaining public safety in Surrey despite no police officers being hired here in years.
“Maintaining public safety and effective policing is of critical importance to my ministry,” he said. “If we were to receive a request from the Surrey police, for example, that they were concerned about the ability to provide additional service or safe service, then we would be most certainly taking initiative on that. But I can tell you that we monitor and that the director of police services is well aware of the policing level in Surrey.”
– with file from Alex Browne