Wake Up Surrey organizer Sukhi Sandhu says Surrey’s new police chief, Norm Lipinski, is the right guy to lead the Surrey Police Service.
“What I really admire is he has a mix of leadership roles in municipal policing and also with the RCMP,” Sandhu said, “and also in terms of building, working in municipalities where there is great diversity.”
Wake Up Surrey, a Surrey grassroots movement aiming to find long-term solutions to stop gang violence on the city’s streets, was formed in the wake of an anti-gang rally in June 2018 that drew thousands of people to the plaza outside Surrey city hall following the shooting murders of Jaskarn Singh Jhutty, 16, and Jaskaran Singh Bhangal, 17, in Campbell Heights.
“My vision for the police model, is we become the template for ‘policing in diverse urban cities within Canada’ while our police board and leadership team prioritize monitoring/data collection of any type of racial profiling and systemic racism. We must be leaders in advancing structural reforms in policing and improving the service delivery,” said Sandhu, who is working on an MA in diversity and inclusion through the University of Kansas.
Asked if he thinks there’s disappointment in the South Asian community that Surrey Police Service’s first police chief is not South Asian, Sandhu replied, “If anyone in our South Asian community is trying to push that narrative, it’s very short-sighted, it’s very offensive and it’s lacking any base.
“I’m not a big proponent of symbolic diversity,” he told the Now-Leader. “It should be more merit-based. The key test is does the individual have the qualifications, background, expertise to lead our Surrey police force. Also, I chaired a task force on intercultural inclusivity for the City of Surrey and some of the finest members were non-racialized people.
“The key is to have a cultural competency. The key is, does the incoming police chief understand our policing model needs to be more accountable, needs to be more collaborative, needs to be a community based model which is reflective of our city’s unique demographics and that entails more engagement with our various ethnic communities,” Sandhu said, adding it’s not just about the individual at the helm, but the policing model.
“Having a new police force isn’t going to solve our gang violence or increasing youth crime on its own,” he noted. “Parents need to be more engaged; we need more resources for mental health, we need better legislation. We need more assistance for educators in terms of early prevention a metrics for at-risk youth.”