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Surrey Police Service still adding officers, despite incoming mayor’s pledge to scrap it

Click to play video: 'Surrey Police Board vows to forge ahead with transition'
Surrey Police Board vows to forge ahead with transition
The Surrey Police Board will carry on with its plans to transition the city from the RCMP to its municipal police force - despite the outcome of the civic election – Oct 26, 2022

The Surrey Police Board (SPB) is still moving ahead with plans to transition the city from the RCMP to a new municipal police force, despite the election of a new mayor who pledged to undo the switch.

At its final meeting before mayor-elect Brenda Locke takes over as board chair, the SPB revealed another 35 officers would be onboarded next month, joining the 150 members already patrolling Surrey streets.

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Chief Norm Lipinski told the meeting that in addition to those officers, more recruits were set to attend the Justice Institute of B.C. in January.

Acting board chair Cheney Cloke told the meeting that there were already 350 staff on the payroll, and that the board intended to make its case the work shouldn’t be undone.

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“The mayor-elect has communicated her position on the issue of a policing transition which does not align with the provincial mandate of this board,” Cloke said.

“The board has been transparent about our finances during our monthly meetings, and we will be providing mayor and council with a clear accounting of the transition to date, an overview of our progress, and the benefits of an independent police service.”

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Locke campaigned heavily on keeping the Surrey RCMP as the police of jurisdiction, and has been steadfast since her election that the transition would be scrapped.

Once she is sworn in on Nov. 7, Locke is expected to direct staff to produce a report on how to wind down the service, then bring the matter to a vote. Locke’s Surrey Connect party will hold majority on council.

B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth has confirmed the city has the power to undo the transition, though he would need to see what kind of a plan the city puts forward.

Click to play video: 'Questions around cost, future of policing in Surrey'
Questions around cost, future of policing in Surrey

With Locke’s election, critics of the transition have questioned why the Surrey Police Service has not frozen spending.

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“We’ve spent way, way too much,” Paul Daynes, a campaigner with Keep the RCMP in Surrey, said.

“Basically, we think the Surrey Police Service, particularly its chief, Norman Lipinski, is out of control when it comes to spending he just seems to do what he wants when he wants, not provide answers to simple questions, such as how much is the IT system going to cost, what hardware have you bought and so on and so on.”

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Cloke said the board looks forward to meeting with Locke and laying out the complex details of the transition, including “significant financial investments,” including technology, and the issues raised by the binding collective agreement signed with the Surrey Police Union.

“We hope between our discussions between mayor-elect and council and a final decision by the provincial government that there will be a timely resolution to this matter to continue to move SPS forward,” she said.

“To the community, thank you. The police board is 100 per cent committed to continuing our mandate to create a modern, responsive and progressive police service.”

Lipinski said Wednesday that the Surrey Police Service could be fully operational by June 2023.

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