Photos clearly create a perception problem, says Doug McCallum
Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum said Thursday that he’s concerned about the public perception created by photos showing a police board member, Harley Chappell, with members of the Hells Angels.
Postmedia revealed this week that Chappell attended a 2018 memorial service for the wife of a founder of the Hells Angels White Rock chapter.
At the August 2018 event, Chappell posed for several photos with White Rock Hells Angels Douglas (Doc) Riddoch and Brent Milne.
McCallum told Postmedia that he has “a real concern” about the photos and intends to contact the B.C. Public Safety Ministry since the provincial government made the appointments to the Surrey Police Board last June.
“I will be talking to the province because it is their responsibility to have a look at it. It’s not the city’s because they recruited and appointed him to the police board, and they have to now have a look at it and decide on what they’re going to do,” McCallum told a Postmedia editorial board.
He said he doesn’t know whether Chappell maintains ties with the Angels, but the photos create a troubling perception especially considering the “serious” gang problem in Surrey.
“I won’t make a comment on the facts yet, because I’m not familiar completely with all the facts on this,” McCallum said. “The perception on this is not good.”
Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said Thursday that he asked his deputy minister to review the situation.
“When I saw the article last night, I raised the issue. I met with my deputy minister and my director of police services this morning. I asked them to look into that matter and to report back to me,” Farnworth said.
In the series of photos, the veteran bikers wore Hells Angels gear at a memorial for Carla Newman, who was married to the late David “Clapp” Newman, a founder of the White Rock chapter.
It is not the only social media post connecting Chappell to the Hells Angels.
In November 2019, Chappell, the elected chief of the Semiahmoo First Nation, posted a birthday tribute to his dad Phillip Chappell that included an old photo of Phillip wearing his Hells Angels “colours” — the leather vest with the death head logo on the back.
Harley Chappell issued a statement to Postmedia Wednesday confirming that he went to the memorial service because Newman’s son is a childhood friend. And he said he got photos taken with the Hells Angels because they were old friends of his dad.
He also said his father left the Hells Angels in 1992 and that he personally has no connection to the controversial motorcycle club.
“I have had no relationship or association with the Hells Angel club in any way. I have never denied or had any reason to deny my father’s history, nor does this impact my personal values or ethics as a First Nation leader or a Surrey police board member,” the statement said.
Postmedia has also learned that Chappell has a Facebook connection with at least one current member of the Hells Angels West Point chapter who posted a comment on Chappell’s page in July.
Chappell is one of seven community members appointed to the Surrey police board last June as part of the transition to a municipal police force from the Surrey RCMP.
Surrey City Councillor Jack Hundial said Thursday that the revelations about the Hells Angels photos are another indication that the transition process is flawed and moving too quickly.
And he said McCallum as chair of the police board bears some responsibility.
“As the chair, ultimately you’re responsible for your board,” he said. “On top of that, you’re the one who’s been rushing and pushing this process. And when you rush anything, you’re going to have errors that are going to come out.”
Hundial also said he has questions about whether the screening process done on board members before their appointments was thorough enough.
“It takes time to do due diligence,” he said.
McCallum also provided an update Thursday on the formation of Surrey Police Services, which named Delta Police deputy chief Norm Lipinski as chief last month.
McCallum said the selection process for three deputy chief positions is underway, with one expected to be filled by the end of the year.
And he said Surrey continues to get inquiries from officers in other provinces and around B.C. who want to apply to the new force.
He also dismissed concerns raised by the Surrey Board of Trade in a letter to Premier John Horgan on Dec. 1. The letter said public safety would be compromised “during the transition as $45 million is cut from the Surrey RCMP budget for 2021.”
“People are moving to Surrey because they do feel it’s a safe community,” McCallum said. “They wouldn’t be moving to Surrey in the record numbers if they felt it was unsafe out there.”