The Surrey Police Board would like to address recent public statements related to pausing or stopping the police transition and the development of the Surrey Police Service.
The provincial government approved the Surrey Police Service (SPS) transition plan in February 2020. Subsequently the Province created the Surrey Police Board, who legally established the Service under the Police Act. As such, the Surrey Police Service now exists under the authority of the provincial government, not local government.
The claim by some parties that a Mayor and Council could unilaterally pause or stop the development of SPS is misinformed. Mayor and Council cannot make this decision without the approval of the Province.
Mayor and Council’s role with SPS includes funding the Service and identifying local priorities, goals and objectives which the Service will integrate into its strategic plan. No city council or mayor has the ability to direct either the administration or operations of a police service.
The structure of policing in British Columbia is designed to insulate police services and departments from politics. Police boards are an essential aspect of this structure. While the Mayor is Chair of, and spokesperson for the Board, he or she does not have a vote, except in the case of a tie.
While it is clear that the continuing development of SPS will unfortunately be politicized in the upcoming municipal election, it is necessary for the Board to protect the Service from political interference. It is also necessary for the Board to ensure Surrey citizens have the facts on this matter.
The Board acknowledges the commitment and dedication of the RCMP who have served Surrey for the last 70 years. However, with a growing city, soon to be the largest in BC, it is necessary to have a police service that is accountable to the civilian oversight of a police board.