Background

In November 2018, Surrey City Council approved a motion to undertake the necessary steps to establish an independent, locally-led municipal police service.

In the Spring of the following year, the findings of a joint study (undertaken by the City of Surrey, the City of Vancouver, The Vancouver Police Department and a third-party assessor, Pricewaterhouse Coopers), were submitted to the Provincial Government outlining the feasibility of implementing a municipal police service. Based on the findings of that report, the Province gave the City of Surrey the green light to proceed in August 2019.

That same month, a Provincial-Municipal Policing Committee chaired by Wally Oppal, former Attorney General and Justice of both the Appeal and Supreme Courts of British Columbia, was established to “ensure all key issues and complex details were thoroughly addressed in the city’s transition plan.”

This report confirmed a local police service was not only possible, but would offer many benefits.

Based on the findings of these two studies, the City of Surrey received approval in February 2020 to establish a Police Board. The formation of a Police Board and the hiring of a Chief Constable, two major milestones, followed in June and December 2020 respectively.

#SPSFacts: The transition to a municipal police service was endorsed by City Council in 2018 and has been the subject of two in-depth studies, both of which included third-party perspective. Final Provincial Government approval was realized in February 2020 with government consent to establish a Police Board.

Why municipal policing?

Municipal police departments have the ability to develop policies, programs and ideas at the local level very quickly. Our goal is to develop a modern, and community-centred police service that will support and serve all residents of and visitors to Surrey. Like all other major urban centres in Canada, Surrey residents deserve a locally-led police service that is responsive and focused on local needs. We are anxious to begin serving the City of Surrey, but will not do so until all necessary elements are in place.

The mandate for a municipal police service has been set and the SPS is 100% committed to fulfilling that mandate. Our attention is squarely focused on standing up a local service in the most strategic, methodical and respectful ways possible.

#SPSFacts: Municipal police departments are subject to civilian oversight, are nimble and more responsive to local concerns as there is less bureaucracy to navigate, and they are found to retain officers for the entire length of their careers as they do not transfer to other areas of the province or country.

Timing

Naturally, the timing of any transition to something new takes planning, collaboration, cooperation and a lot of hard work. Add to that the responsibility of public and police officer safety, and it’s easy to understand why timing is on a lot of minds, including ours.

#SPSFacts: The transition to a local police service will begin when there is absolute confidence it can be done safely, effectively and seamlessly.

When Surrey City Council voted to move to a locally-led police service, April 1, 2021 was set as a working target date, 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 does have a goal of having “some boots on the ground” in 2021, the full transition will continue to press forward in a methodical, process-driven manner. Until then, the RCMP will continue to serve the people of Surrey.

The safety and wellbeing of Surrey residents and visitors are paramount to us and will continue to be as we continue building a team of experienced leadership, support staff and ultimately frontline officers.

Cost

The move to a police service that answers directly to its citizens and not a federally-led organization is an investment into the future of Surrey. As the City continues to grow, it not only requires but deserves a police service that is responsive to local needs and priorities and, most importantly, accountable directly to its citizens.  Costs associated with building the SPS are available to the public through reports to the Surrey Police Board at its monthly meetings.

#SPSFacts: The cost of the infrastructure of the transition will be approximately $64M, phased over five years. This will cover the cost of a multitude of start-up expenses, including equipment and critical information technology infrastructure. The cost of running SPS on an annual basis is currently projected at $206M by 2025 and is within the City’s approved five-year financial plans. Approximately 80-90% of police costs relate to salaries, given the 24/7 operational requirements.

The unionization of the RCMP and its anticipated collective agreement is widely anticipated to increase costs for all RCMP-policed municipalities, closing the gap in operating costs between the RCMP and municipal police.

Further, contrary to what has circulated online, there is no signing bonus for anyone who joins SPS. There will be, however, competitive pay and benefits, and a rewarding career.

The SPS is an investment in the future of our rapidly developing city.  Public safety is an area where you want the best service, not the least expensive.