Blue Line

Surrey Police Service asks B.C. to reject city’s request to halt policing transfer

December 22, 2022  By The Canadian Press

Dec. 22, 2022, Surrey, B.C. – The Surrey Police Service has submitted a report to the province calling on it to reject the city’s request to halt the transfer of policing from the RCMP, saying that reversing the transition would be “time consuming, complicated and costly.”

Surrey Police Chief Norm Lipinski said the service composed the summary report because it did not have an opportunity to appear before the city’s council to explain their position.

“We wanted to ensure our case is heard. We felt it was important to really put a good, factual lens on what we’re doing here and what we have to offer the citizens of Surrey,” Lipinski said in an interview Thursday.

The report said reversing the transition would mean firing 375 employees, dissolving two police unions and accepting “unrecoverable” sunk costs of $107 million.

“The main point that I would like to make is that we’re too far down the road,” Lipinski said, adding it would have a major human cost.

“There is no RCMP person that was terminated or laid off because of this transition (to the municipal service), but it won’t work that way if you reverse it.”

The report has been submitted to the province’s Policing and Security Branch and is intended to guide a decision by Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth on the fate of Surrey’s policing transition.

Lipinski said continuing the transition will provide certainty required for a “modernized, community-based policing model” in the city.

The transition was thrown into disarray by the election of Mayor Brenda Locke, who campaigned on maintaining the RCMP.

City council sent its own report to the province last week saying that keeping the RCMP as its police force would save $235 million over five years, with a decision by Farnworth expected early in the new year.

Lipinski said he disagreed with this assessment, saying the service has estimated it would cost “roughly $18.9 million more a year” for a municipal force.

He said though it comes with a higher price tag, it also allows for more local accountability as well as more flexibility that allows for quicker reform.

“It’s much slower in the federal government system,” he said. “We can do that very quickly. This is all an investment.”

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