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OUR VIEW: So much for local control of Surrey policing

City council and the Surrey Police Board need telescopes to see eye to eye
Surrey mayor-elect Brenda Locke and Surrey Police Service Chief Constable Norm Lipinski. (File photos)

What a mess.

Surrey council on a 5-4 vote Monday decided to maintain the Surrey RCMP, Canada’s largest RCMP detachment, as the city’s police of jurisdiction and instructed City of Surrey staff, on behalf of council, to inform the Surrey Police Board to stop hiring and spending.

But will they? Melissa Granum, executive director of the SPB, notes that under the Police Act the provincial government has authority over the board and no city council can direct the police “with respect to their budget and their hiring.”

Granum says the board has “every intention” of “looking to the province for guidance on next steps and advice.”

READ ALSO: Surrey council votes 5-4 to maintain Surrey RCMP as city’s police department

The hiring occurring “right now” is completed, she said, and that “takes us” into January and any stoppage in hiring would have a “ripple effect” into the spring. “It’s really, really important to understand is that the province has given us direction to continue deploying police officers and continue hiring. That’s direction from the province itself.”

Granum says what this does, in effect, is override council’s instruction on Monday within the 2022 approved budget.

So here we have a scenario where the Surrey Connect majority on council continues to be at loggerheads with the SPS, with both entities carrying on in parallel universes.

Ironically, the intention behind the city deciding in 2018 to set up its own city police force to replace the Surrey RCMP was to wrest control of the city’s police of jurisdiction from Ottawa in favour of local control.

And yet, city council and the SPB could never be further apart. So much for local control.


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