Surrey police transition plan calls for new officers to gradually replace Mounties

·2 min read
A Surrey Police Service SUV seen in 2019. The force and the RCMP jointly announced a plan for the new force's officers to replace Mounties currently policing the city. (CBC - image credit)
A Surrey Police Service SUV seen in 2019. The force and the RCMP jointly announced a plan for the new force's officers to replace Mounties currently policing the city. (CBC - image credit)

The Surrey Police Service (SPS) and the Surrey RCMP announced a plan Thursday that will see the new force's recruits work alongside and gradually replace almost 200 Mounties currently policing the city who will be transferred out.

In a joint statement, the leaders of both forces called the news a "significant milestone in the transition of policing services in Surrey."

The 13-month plan calls for 295 SPS recruits to work alongside Mounties, under RCMP command, by May 2023, mostly in front-line roles, with some in investigative and community service roles.

The statement notes 66 SPS officers are already policing in the city under RCMP command.

As SPS officers come in, RCMP officers will be transferred out, the statement said. The plan calls for 175 to 195 RCMP officers to be deployed to other detachments by May 2023.

Plans to transfer equipment like vehicles, switch over information technology systems and move SPS into RCMP's existing Surrey facilities are also in progress.

Chief Const. Norm Lipinski of SPS said the plan provides clear direction for the next 13 months.

"It gives us a roadmap on how and how many we need to hire," Lipinski said. "But it also gives a roadmap to the RCMP and how they have to demobilise a certain amount of officers."

Lipinski says about three dozen of his force's current officers came from Surrey RCMP.

He added that part of the discussions are around hiring mental health experts to work in the dispatch centre to help deal with calls about people in crisis.

"That is something that we're going to research as a starting point because there's many logistical things that would go with that," Lipinski said.

"And of course, there's a financial aspect to it, but it's ideas like that that come to us that give us an opportunity to first research, write policy for, and then bring it before the board. And they would approve that."

Assistant Commissioner Brian Edwards, the officer in charge of Surrey RCMP, said the goal is to keep officers leaving the city's Mounties as municipal cops elsewhere in the region.

"We can accommodate those folks within the Lower Mainland," Edwards said.

"Our goal is to maintain all of those officers within the RCMP. There is a great demand for police officers right now and we want to keep them within the RCMP."

He said the full transition from RCMP to SPS will be a multi-year process and the top priority is to maintain public safety during the transfer.

CBC British Columbia has launched a Surrey bureau to help tell your stories with reporter Kiran Singh. Story ideas and tips can be sent to kiran.singh@cbc.ca.

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