Budget oversight

An @SurreyPS follower asked what oversight is in place to ensure funds are managed appropriately.

When the City of Surrey made the decision to move from a federal police model to a municipal one, it set a transition budget. A police transition team, composed of City staff, was tasked with ensuring the budget remained on track. Now, the budget falls within the governance and oversight of the police board.

In a municipal police model, there are many layers of accountability for financial management. Finances are overseen and tracked by qualified civilian staff with the Chief Constable ultimately responsible for the department’s day-to-day operating budget.

SPS Chief Norm Lipinski, in turn, is accountable to the Surrey Police Board (SPB) for all expenditures. To assist the Board in fulfilling its oversight responsibilities relating to financial planning, budgeting, financial reporting, risk management and internal controls, the Board established a Finance and Audit Committee. The Chief is required to prepare monthly reports and those reports are available to the public on the Board’s web site

#SPSFacts: In a municipal police model, there are many layers of accountability for financial management. Finances are overseen and tracked by qualified civilian staff with the Chief Constable ultimately responsible for the department’s day-to-day operating budget. SPS Chief Norm Lipinski, in turn, is accountable to the Surrey Police Board (SPB) for all expenditures and it receives monthly reports.

Each SPS operating area (i.e.  Support Services, Community Policing and Investigations) is overseen by a Deputy Chief Constable and has an assigned budget they are responsible for. The Deputies are accountable to the Chief and the rules and procedures are laid out through internal controls. When SPS is operational, the City of Surrey staff currently assigned to support the RCMP are anticipated to become employees of the Surrey Police Service.

Board Responsibility

An @SurreyPS follower asks what controls are in place to prevent undue influence over police operations.

Communities that have an independent (municipal) police department are required to maintain independence from political interference. Further, the Police Act is clear that a police board is not responsible for police operations; this is a matter for the Chief Constable alone.

The Surrey Police Board is composed of eight citizens who either live or have a vested interest in Surrey, plus the Mayor. Through governance rules for police boards, the Police Act, open meetings of the board, and a board member’s own fiduciary duty, there is a high-level of accountability.

#SPSFacts: Communities that have an independent (municipal) police department are required to maintain independence from political interference. Further, the Police Act is clear that a police board is not responsible for police operations; this is a matter for the Chief Constable alone.

External Support Services

Much like all organizations that are forming from the ground up, there are funds allocated in the start up budget for external resources to help manage work until fulltime staff are onboarded.

For example, communication is a priority for us, so we engaged external support for that in December. Because of this support we have been able to increase communication by issuing updates to the media, appear in media interviews, launch social media channels and start this endeavour, #SPSFacts. But once regular fulltime staff are hired, that support will be phased out and utilized on an ad hoc basis only.

#SPSFacts: Relying on external support services during start-up is commonplace as there are no fulltime staff in place. When the SPS Communications Unit is stood up, external services will be phased out as fulltime staff are tasked with community engagement.

We are currently recruiting a fulltime communications manager and social media coordinator and will be filling other positions too that are needed to keep the public well informed before, and afters SPS assumes full policing responsibility for the city.  We expect our communication efforts to continue to grow exponentially as SPS progresses.

Executive Compensation

Much has been said in the media and online about compensation for police leadership. Here are the straight goods: Setting compensation is the responsibility of a municipal police Board. The Surrey Police Board has stated that it employed a third-party consulting firm to help develop its compensation philosophy and to ensure it is fair, competitive and in-line with police services and departments across Canada. Therefore, part of the process included comparisons to ten other municipal police departments. Compensation packages are more than salary; they include total benefits including vacation, time off in lieu of overtime, the value of medical, dental and so on. We invite you to read the Surrey Police Board statement and to read the policies for yourselves.

#SPSFacts: Compensation for Surrey Police Service executive is within the mandate of the police board and is based on comparisons to other municipal police departments in Canada. SPS leadership is not paid the highest in B.C. or Canada, nor the lowest.

About Municipal Police Boards

In British Columbia, police boards, including the Surrey Police Board, are composed of civilian members of the community and are tasked with establishing and overseeing municipal police departments. Among a board’s duties are acting as the employer for all sworn and civilian staff, Boards also set policy and strategic direction for their departments, develops the annual budget, selects the Chief Constable and acts as a discipline authority for policy and service complaints. Police board members share a common goal of public safety and public service.

#SPSFacts: Municipal police departments are the only police agencies overseen by civilians who live and/or work in the community the department serves. The public can attend its meetings, except where prohibited by the Police Act, and can read minutes of meetings too. This high degree of accountability is only found through the municipal policing model.

About Police Board Composition

Per the Police Act, all members of a Police Board, with the expectation of one, are appointed by the Provincial Government. The final position is appointed by City Council.

#SPSFacts: Board members are responsible for oversight of the police department and police leadership is responsible for its operations. The Board does not involve itself in police operations and is not provided with operational information (e.g., investigative information). Board members do not require police experience.