Surrey Police Service Chief Constable Norm Lipinski defended assigning two police officers per patrol car as he took questions from Surrey council members Sept. 11, noting that it’s part of the SPS’s collective agreement and every major city police force in Canada has two-officer cars.
In contrast, the majority of Surrey Mounties patrol alone, except in training or in some specialized units.
Lipinski noted that about 40 per cent of calls for service in Surrey require two police officers. Particularly on a Friday or Saturday night, he said, having two officers in one car is much more efficient because it saves on mileage and gas.
“But more importantly, it is efficient if you go to a dangerous call, and I’ve been there. You go by yourself and you wait for backup. It’s pretty hard to do, to wait for backup, when you hear somebody screaming inside a house. So you go in, and that’s unsafe. There is a place for two-person cars in today’s society in a major city.”
Coun. Rob Stutt, a former Surrey RCMP officer, asked Lipinski, “Are you telling me there’s no backup in Surrey that’s readily available at any given time?”
Lipinski replied there is back-up available but the question is how long it takes and how busy it is on a Friday night. Sometimes the minimum requirement is “barely” met on account of training and officers being off sick, he noted.
“If it happens to be really busy, that particular time when the call comes in, it could be some time before somebody gets there. I don’t know what that time is, but I’m sure there’s lots of anecdotal stories.”
Coun. Harry Bains, again on the two officers per car issue, asked Lipinski if it’s his plan to have fewer patrol cars on the road at any given time.
“It would depend on the shift and the day of the week,” Lipinski replied. “There could be less police cars on the road.”
Meantime, Surrey Mayor Brenda Locke noted after the meeting that in cases involving a mental health crisis the Surrey RCMP sends Car 67 to the scene, with a Mountie in uniform and a clinical nurse.
“On the other hand, if it’s a situation where there is perhaps violence or trauma happening in a home or in a place that they have to go to, they send two cars, but those two cars don’t necessarily have to stay there the whole time,” she said.
“So the RCMP have a method of doing it, they’ve always been able to adapt to that and so I can only say they’ve been very successful, the RCMP’s model has been successful to date.”