The Surrey Police Service picked its name because it wanted to reflect to residents the agency is a “service” to the community, rather than a “department.”
But if they wanted to call themselves the ‘Surrey Police Department,’ for example, they may have been in for a challenge.
Earlier this month, an anonymous Twitter account @Courage_red shared a series of website links to pending trademarks on the Canadian Trademarks Database.
The database reveals that the National Police Federation (NPF), which represents RCMP members, went on a trademark registration spree last year.
On April 16, 2020, the NPF filed to register ‘Surrey Police Department,’ ‘Surrey Police Board,’ ‘Surrey Police,’ ‘Surrey Police Association,’ and ‘Surrey Police Union.’
Two months after NPF filed the trademarks, the City of Surrey started the process of registering its own trademarks, including ‘Surrey Police Service,’ and ‘Surrey Police Board.’
The anonymous Twitter account accused the NPF of “petty antics” in an attempt to cause issues for the SPS.
In an emailed statement, NPF president Brian Sauvé told the Now-Leader that the organization filed to register the trademarks because it “anticipated a potential use for these trademarks over a year ago.”
“This is what happens given the SPS has no plan. We welcome discussion of this with the Surrey Police Service,” Sauvé said.
Executive director of Surrey Police Board Melissa Granum said in a statement that the marks ‘Surrey Police Service’ and ‘Surrey Police Board’ have been trademarked and published in the Canadian Trademarks Journal as official marks of the Surrey Police Board.
The designations recognize that the Surrey Police Board is the “public authority” under the Trademarks Act and the marks meet the criteria of use and adoption in Canada, she added.
“While we cannot speak to the National Police Federation’s motivation for registering a number of trademarks related to ‘Surrey Police,’ their applications have not been approved at this point, and the Surrey Police Board has taken the appropriate steps to protect the Surrey Police Service and Surrey Police Board names so there is no confusion,” Granum said.
Granum added that ‘Surrey Police Service’ was the preferred name because it “most accurately reflected its objective of developing a community-based police service.”
Surrey Police Service media specialist Ian MacDonald echoed Granum in that he cannot speak to the motivations of NPF for filing trademark applications relating to Surrey police.
“I don’t think the motivation, whatever it was, was to ultimately advance the efforts of SPS,” MacDonald said.
“It’s a head-shaker.”
MacDonald, however, did want to address Sauvé’s comment – that has been commonly repeated from the NPF and Surrey RCMP supporters – that the Surrey Police Service “has no plan.”
“We hear that from detractors, unfortunately, on a regular basis. I just want to assure everybody that a plan very much does exist. And it actually isn’t an SPS plan, it’s a plan that’s put together by three levels of government.
“My short answer to anyone who suggests there’s no plan is where did the November deployment date come from? Because certainly, I don’t think people would seriously contemplate the notion that the SPS could just pick a date on the calendar and guess what, this is going to be the day that SPS and Surrey RCMP are going to start working together.”
Last month, it was announced that the first group of 50 Surrey Police Service officers will be patrolling city streets by Nov. 30, or perhaps even earlier, making a milestone in the transition from Surrey RCMP to the city’s own police force.
The transition to a Surrey Police Service has been a highly controversial issue which has spilled into a mess of accusations – some baseless, some under police investigation.
A group of residents launched an Elections BC-approved petition to force a referendum. A binding referendum will be in play if the group is successful in getting 10 per cent of eligible voters in each of the province’s 87 electoral districts to sign a petition.
The controversy erupted when Mayor Doug McCallum and members of ‘Keep the RCMP in Surrey’ campaign met face-to-face Sept. 4 at the Southpoint Save-On-Foods.
After an altercation, which the mayor called “verbal assault,” McCallum alleges his foot was “run over by a vehicle” by a ‘Keep the RCMP in Surrey’ supporter.
Keep the RCMP founder Ivan Scott, who was present but didn’t witness the incident, called McCallum’s allegations “complete rubbish.”
Now, it’s up to the Surrey RCMP to unravel the mess. Thursday, Surrey RCMP said the incident is still under police investigation.
MacDonald agreed that the police transition is highly political. Asked if the cloud from the political mess would follow, or somehow prohibit Surrey Police Service officers from effectively doing their job, he said no.
“The reason I say that is because at the end of the day, regardless of what the uniform is, when people are having a crisis or when people are in danger or when people need assistance, they will generally phone 911. And they are happy to see people arrive and help them with the problem,” MacDonald said.
MacDonald, who has been a police officer for 22 years, most recently worked for the Abbotsford Police Department. Often, he said, the public would confuse the area as RCMP jurisdiction. At the end of the day, he said, it didn’t matter to people who needed help.
“I can tell you, when things are going sideways, no one is disappointed to see the police arrive,” MacDonald said.
“I can assure you and everyone else, when people start making calls and see the SPS members in uniform show up, they will be happy to have a police officer assisting them. Period. End of story.”