Surrey Police Service ‘ready to go’ after B.C. doubles down on transition

Despite ongoing tension between Surrey and the B.C. government on the city’s police transition, the chief of the municipal police force says his officers are “ready to go.”

Surrey Police Service Chief Constable Norm Lipinski spoke with CityNews on Wednesday, a day after the province said the transition from the RCMP to the new force would go ahead — regardless of Mayor Brenda Locke’s position on the matter.

“We’re excited about this,” Lipinski said. “This finally gives us some clarity of the way forward.”

On Tuesday, B.C. Public Safety Minister and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth said the province would use the $150 million it promised the City of Surrey to support the police transition “directly until it is completed.”

What exactly that looks like will be further outlined next week, he said. However, Farnworth noted the city had “rejected” the government’s offer of monetary support, meaning additional funding of up to $100 million was off the table.

The minister stressed the transition would continue, despite legal challenges and the mayor’s apparent pushback on the plan.

“We’ve been working very hard at this. And so, with the announcement yesterday that we’re going to be taking the next steps, we’re leaning forward, we’re ready to go, and will be working very closely with all the stakeholders to ensure that there is a successful and safe transition,” Lipinski said Wednesday.

He says it’s “unfortunate” that Locke declined the province’s offer of financial support.

However, he says the focus needs to be on the future, on “moving towards the police of jurisdiction, which is the change of command.”

“We’re excited about that in order to get the hiring in place again, and moving forward to serve the citizens of Surrey,” Lipinski added.

A side by side of the Surrey RCMP and Surrey Police Service shoulder patches
FILE – A side by side of the Surrey Police Service and Surrey RCMP shoulder patches. (CityNews Image)

Farnworth said he would provide more details on timelines and next steps in the change of police in the coming days.

In a statement Tuesday, Locke remained steadfast in her position, saying the province has “provided no firm financial commitment” to remedy the cost for Surrey taxpayers of transitioning to a police force they “did not vote for.”

The additional money Farnworth referenced was up to $20 million annually for five more years if SPS salaries end up being more expensive than the RCMP.

“This dispute is about the city’s ability to choose its policing model,” Locke stated. “The city’s voters have chosen the RCMP and city council has accordingly resolved to maintain the RCMP as its municipal police force.”

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