Building a police service from the ground up is a once in a lifetime opportunity for a city.
At Surrey Police Service (SPS), we know it is critically important that we do not squander this opportunity to create a policing model that works for today’s world and for Surrey’s needs.
We cannot simply accept what was done in the past, or the ‘status quo’ of policing. Our world has changed – and Surrey has changed – and so must our policing model.
Most commonly, people want to know how SPS will be different. How does municipal policing differ from the federal policing model provided by the RCMP?
The benefits of municipal policing can be boiled down to two primary points: local accountability and responsiveness.
First and foremost, a municipal police service is directly accountable to the citizens it serves, not government. This accountability starts with our governance model – we are governed by a civilian police board that is independent from both city council and the provincial government.
The Surrey Police Board oversees SPS policies, priorities, financials, and public complaints related to SPS’s service and policies.
The board is also the employer of all SPS staff, including the chief. This separation between police and government is crucial.
You can already see this accountability and transparency in action at SPS. Our financials, policies, board meetings, and collective agreements are posted online, and requests for SPS records are actioned within 30 business days. This is not the case with a federal policing service.
When it comes to responsiveness, residents will see that the simplified and localized structure of a municipal police agency will allow SPS to respond to community public safety needs quickly.
As we all know, crime does not wait for lengthy administrative processes – it requires quick action before things get out of hand. When we need to respond to a specific crime issue or procure new technology to make the city safer – we will be able to do so quickly and at the local level.
SPS is already developing policies that are specifically tailored to Surrey, as opposed to federal policies that must work for towns and cities all across Canada.
Together with the Surrey Police Board, we are creating policies that address modern expectations in areas such as police use of force and police interactions with vulnerable people.
In addition, municipal agencies can procure leading-edge equipment and implement new training techniques quickly and effectively. For example, SPS emphasizes the teaching of various de-escalation tactics to all officers.
These include the Integrated Communication and Tactics (ICAT) training, which reinforces the sanctity of protecting all human life, as well as Gracie Survival Tactics and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
The policing and public safety needs of every community, every town, and every city are unique. The only way to address the unique needs of Surrey is to have a policing service that is dedicated to Surrey. At Surrey Police Service, our only concern, every day, is the citizens of Surrey.
Norm Lipinski is the Chief Constable of the Surrey Police Service.