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Surrey Police chief wants people on force who have ‘overcome adversity’

Lipinski explains some of the criteria he looks for when hiring during Surrey Board of Trade town hall
Norm Lipinski, the Surrey Police Service’s first chief, during the announcement on Friday (Nov. 20, 2021). (Photo:

Surrey Police Service Chief Norm Lipinski says he first looks to those who have “overcome adversity” when it comes to hiring people for the department.

The comments come as Lipinski was taking part in a digital town hall with the Surrey Board of Trade on Wednesday (May 12), for “A Perspective on the Surrey Police Transition.”

Lipinski was asked how the SPS is going to work with youth and newcomers to build trust with the public safety system.

He said community consultation is the first step, which the SPS is hoping to launch in the coming months. Lipinski added he would like to see yearly consultation and yearly or biennial surveys.

He also mentioned the discussions around school liaison officers in schools and the roles they play.

READ ALSO: Surrey School District not planning to pull cops out of schools, like Vancouver, April 28, 2021

“I will let the community determine what they want from the Surrey Police Service and the school board, what kind of model they would like to see pertaining to our youth.”

With newcomers, Lipinski said he wants to hold sessions with newcomers “describing and walking through what policing in Canada is like.”

Then he moved on to his decisions behind hiring someone.

“I used to be of the mindset years ago that we hire people who are into sports and they’re sort of the command control people … they can make a decisions. Through the years, I’ve changed my position.”

Lipinski said he looks at two things: if they’ve “overcome adversity” and someone who has worked in the “people industry.”

“The reason is this is a very tough job and also you have to appreciate the people you deal with under adverse conditions or have come backgrounds from adversity,” he explained.

“For somebody to have been there, it really makes a connection, solidifies, it makes an understanding. We know that the conditions you’re born in, raised in and live in, sometimes you make bad choices. We need to have that police officer that understands that.”

As for the those in the “people industry,” Lipinski said he looks for people “quite frankly, that have been servers in restaurants.”

“The reason is that they understand and they have experience of talking to people. That serves many different elements of talking somebody down who is mentally ill, talking somebody down that is very mad for whatever reason. It’s that interaction of people contact.”

However, for recruitment, Lipinski said he is initially looked for experienced officers and then “brand-new” recruits. But he added he’s looking to schedule “placeholders” at the Justice Institute of B.C. for the next year.

New recruits would be trained at the JIBC, followed by “in-service training for individual police services, he said.

Meantime, the National Police Federation is calling on the SPS to “halt recruitment of active police officers in the Lower Mainland” in the wake of multiple gang-related shootings.

READ ALSO: ‘We will do everything we can,’ B.C. police say to reassure public amid gang violence, May 11, 2021

READ ALSO: Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence, May 10, 2021

NPF president Brian Sauvé said “now is not the time to be removing scarce resources from active service in the Lower Mainland” to an “inactive potential future police service.”

He said “immediate action” is need to protect innocent people, including police officers, during this crisis.”

“It is more important than ever to ensure police services are resourced and properly funded to protect the public from this ongoing gang violence.”

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Lauren Collins

About the Author: Lauren Collins

I'm a provincial reporter for Black Press Media's national team, after my journalism career took me across B.C. since I was 19 years old.
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