As we continue to build Surrey Police Service (SPS), nothing makes us more proud than seeing a growing number of SPS police officers begin to respond to calls for service in Surrey.
Currently, 41 SPS officers have been deployed into policing operations, with more scheduled for deployment in the next month.
The progress on Surrey’s policing transition is steady and measured. We now have over 200 employees and the first collective agreement for SPS sworn members was recently ratified.
This transition is complex, involving three levels of government, two established police organizations and three unions.
This is one of the largest – if not the largest – policing transitions to occur in Canadian history, so it is no surprise that this transition takes time.
We also recognize that there are different opinions about this policing transition. That is also no surprise when we are talking about such a significant change that has public safety at its core and taxpayer dollars at stake. I am glad that the citizens of Surrey care so deeply about public safety.
This is one of the reasons I wanted this job as your police chief.
But it is important that citizens have the facts about this policing transition and their police service.
Public safety is too important for any of us to be swayed by headlines and social media posts that scroll by before we can digest their meaning and intent.
Here are a few key facts:
There are plans for both the policing transition and the development of SPS. The three levels of government who oversee the policing transition have a critical path; there is an Assignment Agreement that guides the initial deployments; and there is a joint Human Resources Plan that is being finalized by SPS and the RCMP to guide future deployments.
SPS also has a publicly available strategic plan, based on community input, to guide its development throughout 2022.
Our operating budget and expenditures are available to the public. The Surrey Police Board has released these documents on its website, with updates provided at every board meeting.
SPS has hired 178 sworn police officers; 104 are constables. To date, 69 of our officers are dedicated to frontline policing.
The BC Police Act gives municipalities the choice of how they will provide policing services, upon approval of the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. Within this structure, a new mayor and council cannot unilaterally decide to change the model back to the RCMP. This would require Ministerial approval.
My team and I also make ourselves available for presentations and consultation sessions with community groups around Surrey on a regular basis. It is a privilege to engage in ongoing dialogue with the community we serve.
To all residents, I encourage you to keep asking questions and to know the facts about your new, local police service.
This is what will make us safer and stronger as a community.
Norm Lipinski is Chief Constable of the Surrey Police Service. He writes quarterly for the Now-Leader.