(Surrey Police Service photo)

(Surrey Police Service photo)

Opinion

LETTER: ‘Local control’ means citizenry oversees police force, not municipal government

Surrey Police Board says editorial on policing transition missed mark

The Editor,

Re: “So much for local control of Surrey policing,” the Now-Leader editorial, online.

“Local control” is a fundamental principle of municipal policing and was the subject of a recent opinion piece. However, it is important to accurately define what local control means. It does not refer to the mayor and council having control of policing.

Instead, the local control that a municipal police service provides to a community lies in the fact that it is controlled by citizens, not by any level of government.

Surrey Police Service (SPS), like all municipal police agencies in B.C., is governed by a civilian police board. Residents of Surrey can go directly to the police board to voice their concerns and priorities, without having to go through elected officials.

Once the transition to SPS is complete, the governance structure essentially removes policing from politics by allowing the public to access their police service directly.

OUR VIEW: So much for local control of Surrey policing

This is the true strength of a municipal policing model.

While the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General superintends policing for the province, he does so only to ensure that each community is provided with adequate and effective policing. This is the current role the minister is playing in Surrey’s policing transition.

With a municipal policing model, the people of Surrey will have a voice in how policing is conducted in their community. It is the responsibility of the Surrey Police Board to ensure SPS priorities, goals and objectives meet public expectations and those of city council.

The board will also provide full transparency to residents by publicly posting monthly expenditures, current police staffing numbers, public complaints, and collective agreements. Board directors have a deep-rooted interest in having a police service that is accountable to everyone.

This is what “local control” in policing truly means.

Melissa Granum, executive director, Surrey Police Board



edit@surreynowleader.com

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