Surrey Police Service is Established and Moving Forward
Police Chief’s first 15 weeks solidify commitment to safe and successful transition
Today marks 15 weeks on the job for Surrey Police Service Chief Constable Norm Lipinski in what he describes as an “exciting and fast-paced time of both accomplishment and challenge.”
“I knew when I accepted this role it would be one of the biggest challenges of my career,” says Chief Lipinski. “I remain committed to creating a municipal policing model with its operational roots right here in Surrey. My focus, and that of the Leadership team, continues to be to move through the development process creating an organization that is community-centered in its service philosophy.”
Today, Surrey Police Service is established and recognized as a police service in the Province of British Columbia. Many milestones have been achieved bringing Surrey Police Service ever closer to assuming operational policing responsibility in Surrey.
“There has been some speculation regarding the transition, including timing,” adds Chief Lipinski. “But the fact is, the transfer of policing responsibility will happen in an orderly, efficient and methodical manner. It is important that this be done right, not fast. As Chief, there is nothing more important to me than the duty of ensuring a safe and successful transfer of responsibility for the sake of both citizens and officers.” More than two years ago, Surrey City Council passed a motion to move to a locally led police service. A working date (of April 01, 2021) was initially identified with the full knowledge and recognition that once the Police Board and Chief Constable were in place, the target date would likely change as full planning began.
Although Chief Lipinski maintains his goal of initiating some “boots on the ground” in 2021, the full transition will continue to press forward in a systematic, process-driven manner. There are numerous considerations to take into account including the transfer of the command structure during the transition, the deployment model for increasing Surrey Police resources while RCMP resources are systematically reduced and the post-transition command structure. Additional logistical considerations include recruiting and onboarding of sworn officers and new recruits, the transition of City of Surrey staff currently supporting the RCMP, transfer and acquisition of equipment and vehicles, implementation of technology, acquisition of uniforms and much more.
While these are technical, legal, and logistical matters of consideration, there remains other key areas of importance: support for new SPS members, and community engagement and consultation to name a few.
“The complexity of a transition of this nature does not allow for a simple stop/start, but necessitates a respectful, phased-in approach,” explains Deputy Chief Constable Jennifer Hyland, the first of three deputy chiefs to join SPS since January and the officer in charge of the Support Services Bureau. “Part of our approach is to prepare for online townhall sessions with prospective SPS officers, to answer their questions, to support them in their goals and to hear firsthand what ours are.”
SPS remains focused on continued collaboration with all levels of government and the RCMP to solidify the transfer of police service, including investigative files and other operational matters. “It requires deliberate, meticulous and thoughtful planning, and precision in decision making,” adds Deputy Chief Constable Todd Matsumoto, the officer in charge of the Investigative Services Bureau. “This will be my focus as my team works to assume investigative files, both large and small.”
Deputy Chief Mike LeSage, in charge of the Community Policing Bureau agrees. “The citizens of Surrey can be assured that public safety will not be compromised in any way during this transition and once we are operational, we will be focused on the needs of the community, serving with compassion and humility.”
Building the infrastructure of the organization, having the Senior Leadership Team in place, and now cascading the recruiting and hiring to the Staff Sergeant and Sergeant ranks, the Surrey Police Service is well beyond a concept and forging ahead in the building and developing process toward operational readiness.
See Backgrounder for an outline of the Milestones and Transition Process to date.
Public Affairs and Communications Manager, Surrey Police Service