Norm Lipinski named first chief constable of Surrey Police Service

·3 min read

The Surrey Police Service's first chief constable said he will build the new force through community consultation and by building relationships across the municipality.

"I intend on building a model of policing that is very reflective of the needs of Surrey," said Norm Lipinski, whose role was announced on Friday by Mayor Doug McCallum and other members of the Surrey Police Board.

McCallum campaigned on the plan to replace Surrey's RCMP detachment with a municipal force during the 2018 mayoral race.

The Surrey Police Service is expected to launch in spring 2021 when the city's contract with the Mounties ends on March 31.

The city has put the cost of the transition at $19 million. The transition has been a controversial topic in Surrey despite McCallum insistence that it's what residents overwhelmingly want.

On Friday, in announcing Lipinski, McCallum said the city was one step closer to realizing the new force.

"We take another major step toward a safe and thriving future," he said.

City of Surrey
City of Surrey

Lipinski said his new role was the "best job in Canada in policing right now."

He described the Surrey force as a "clean canvas" and promised to start work by consulting with the police board and community, along with other levels of government.

'Seasoned leader'

Lipinski began his career with the Edmonton Police Service and served for more than 30 years before leaving to become an assistant commissioner with the RCMP in B.C. in 2010.

After five years with the national force he joined the Delta Police Department, which said he has a reputation as a collaborative leader who embraces community policing and is progressive.

The Surrey Police Board said it hired a third party to conduct the recruitment for the city's top cop. Candidates applied from around the world, the board said.

Cheney Cloke, a member of the board, said Lipinski was chosen because of the desire to create a more nimble force in Surrey and one that will connect more with its residents.

Cloke described Lipinski as a "seasoned leader in community-level policing."

'Move much quicker'

At the news conference announcing his hiring, Lipinski was asked what the main difference would be between his force and the RCMP detachment currently serving the city.

He said that with 20,000 members across Canada, the RCMP had a large bureacracy that could be slow moving at times.

"Municipal departments can move much quicker than that," he said.

The service will need to recruit around 800 members in time for its launch. McCallum said he expects some Surrey RCMP members to make the switch and that Lipinski's experience with the national force will help with the transition.

The union representing RCMP officers criticized the selection process, saying in a statement that Lipinski's hiring was done without any public consultation.

RCMP Assistant Commissioner Brian Edwards congratulated Lipinski on his new position in a statement. He said it was a pleasure working with him on the national force and that Edwards looked forward to working with him again on the transition.

The statement reiterated that the RCMP continues to maintain responsibility for policing in Surrey and that the transition of police services would be "a long and complex process."

The statement said that RCMP officers in Surrey continue to work with "professionalism, integrity, and compassion," despite the uncertainty around the change.