Surrey Police Service to take over from RCMP in November 2024: province

The government of B.C. says the Surrey Police Service will be the force of jurisdiction in Surrey starting in November. It comes years after the transition was initiated. Monika Gul reports.

The Surrey Police Service will officially take over from the RCMP in the city on Nov. 29, the province has announced.

Public Safety Minister and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth confirmed the date for the switch on Tuesday, after promising to give a firm timeline for the transfer of jurisdiction.

“This date was identified after careful consideration of public safety, the progress completed to date, and the significant work currently underway to finalize the transition,” Farnworth said, standing alongside the commanding officers of the Surrey Police Service and the BC RCMP.

“The BC RCMP will continue to operate in Surrey, providing temporary support to the Surrey Police Service until the transition is completed.”


Farnworth says officials, both federal and provincial, have worked to “find a pathway that will allow the RCMP to provide these transitional supports” to the SPS, when the department takes over.

“To be clear, this pathway will not require provincial or federal legislative processes or amendments. The agreed-upon pathway is consistent with the existing legislative framework and can occur in a way that will not require RCMP to delegate their authorities or be under the command of another police agency. Rather, the two police agencies will work together under a collaborative arrangement,” the minister explained.

“In the coming weeks, I will be issuing a notice to the City of Surrey that will terminate the city’s municipal Police Unit Agreement with the province for the use of the RCMP as its police of jurisdiction. At the same time, the Surrey RCMP Municipal Police Unit will be removed from the province’s Policing Agreement with the federal government.”

“This will effectively transfer responsibility for the delivery of policing and law enforcement in Surrey from the RCMP to the Surrey Police Service. This will also satisfy the requirement of Section 7 of the Police Amendment Act 2023 that the City of Surrey provide its policing provide its policing and law enforcement services by means of a municipal police department, the Surrey Police Service,” Farnworth continued.

This sets another milestone in a process that’s been marred by controversy. There have been years of back and forth, with current Surrey Mayor Brenda Locke continuing to push against the police transition.

SPS Chief Constable Norm Lipinski says his members are ready.

“At the present time, we have a total 428 staff, 367 sworn officers, and 61 civilians. With today’s announcement, our hiring will ramp up,” Lipinski said. “It’s important to note that our hiring will continue to be aligned with policing staffing numbers outlined in the City of Surrey’s five-year financial plan.”

BC RCMP Deputy Commissioner Dwayne McDonald says throughout the process, the priority for officers will continue to be maintaining public safety.

“The RCMP is committed to working closely with the Government of British Columbia, Public Safety Canada, the Surrey Police Service, and the City of Surrey, as we identify and advance the necessary work to reach this next milestone in November. This includes identifying the details of the required transitional supports and working on the Operational Assistance and Cooperation Agreement,” he explained.

The B.C. government has put up $150 million to help the city with the transition to the SPS, funding the city has rejected. Despite this, Farnworth has said the money will be applied directly to the transition process.

As Surrey’s current mayor and council continue to fight the transition away from the RCMP, their legal challenge of the process is due to start in court on April 29.

Locke says ‘nothing has changed’

In a statement Tuesday, Locke said, “Aside from setting an aspirational date, nothing else has changed.”

“Minister Farnworth’s ‘announcement’ today is simply another desperate attempt by the province to demonstrate some kind of progress on this issue, mere days before the matter is heard in court,” the mayor said just before 4 p.m.

“Everything Minister Farnworth stated today confirms why the City of Surrey has consistently and repeatedly chosen to retain the RCMP. The reality is that despite the claims of transition progress over the last five years, substantial plans for this transition have never been completed. Minister Farnworth’s comments today raise more questions and doubts about the province’s ability to responsibly navigate this matter in the best interests of public safety and the people of Surrey.”

Locke says Farnworth “has set many dates and deadlines” that the province has missed, in a transition she describes as being “three years behind schedule.”

“Now, he is anxious to switch the police of jurisdiction saying that SPS will have the complement of officers needed by the end of November. Like many of his announcements, there are sparse details on how this ‘milestone’ will be completed,” she said.

“The reality is that despite several public gestures of transition progress over the last five years, substantial plans for this transition have never been completed. There was no clear path forward then, and there remains no clear path forward now.”

On Monday, Locke used the city’s budget approval to suggest that paying for the SPS has handcuffed the ability to deliver new projects.

“As much as we are doing, we wish we could do more. We have been prudent and kept costs as low as we possibly could. New revenues have helped but we have also chosen not to pursue other spending priorities,” Locke said in a statement.

“The fact is, Surrey Police Service is putting a financial strain on our ability to deliver new projects, not to mention SPS exceeded its budget by more than $22 million in 2023.”

The idea of the SPS was brought forward back in 2018 by then-Surrey mayor Doug McCallum.

Locke is adamantly against it and was voted into office on the promise to keep the RCMP.

CityNews will bring you live coverage of this event online, slated to begin at 12:30 p.m. You can watch CityNews 24/7 live or listen live to CityNews 1130 to keep up to date with this developing story. You can also subscribe to breaking news alerts sent directly to your inbox.

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