Why is Surrey changing its policing model?

The City of Surrey is the largest municipal jurisdiction in Canada without its own locally controlled police service. Surrey Police Service (SPS) is a progressive, community-based police service that is accountable to the community and reflects the needs of its residents. We’re building a police service for Surrey, by Surrey, where priorities are set and solutions are developed locally.  

Changing a city’s policing model is a big deal, and a change of this magnitude is both complex and requires a detailed transition strategy. Before this decision was made, a comprehensive citizen engagement strategy was completed by the City of Surrey to understand the key priorities and advantages of a local, municipal police service.

The benefits of municipal policing

  • Nimble and Responsive – Municipal police services can quickly develop policies, programs, and ideas at the local level to respond to changing needs of the public.
  • Civilian Oversight –  A municipal police service is governed by a police board, making it accountable to independent provincial bodies such as the Office of the Police Complaints Commissioner and Independent Investigations Office. The Surrey Police Board sets the priorities and policing budget based on the needs and expectations of Surrey citizens and business owners.
  • Longevity – The majority of municipal police officers spend their entire careers with one police service. As a result, these officers have a deep understanding of the community they serve and are committed to long term solutions. Many of our officers are long-time Surrey residents, and they bring a keen understanding of the needs and demographics of the community.
  • Modern – It is a unique and historic opportunity to develop a police service from the ground up. SPS’s policies, practices and training will be both progressive and feature current policing best practices. Areas such as systemic racism, the role of policing in mental health calls, gang violence, and police use of force are just a few of the important policies that will be carefully considered.
  • Equipment and training – Municipal police can procure leading-edge equipment and implement new training techniques quickly and effectively. A municipal police agency can also research and source new technologies more quickly than federal agencies, often resulting in more innovation policing practices.
  • Engagement – Municipal police services focus on building quality relationships within the communities they serve. Community-based policing is an important piece of the SPS vision, for example, a focus on youth engagement will allow for long term programs to be created in gang prevention, youth diversion programs and youth counselling.