Has Surrey Police Board made the right choice for Chief of Surrey Police Service?

FOR South Asians, it appears that the selection of former Mountie Norm Lipinski, who is currently the Deputy Chief Constable of Delta Police, as the head of the new Surrey Police Service, is – as the famous English rock band The Who sang in their hit song “Won’t Get Fooled Again” – “Meet the new [police] boss, same as the old [police] boss”!

The VOICE was the first to announce Lipinski’s appointment on Thursday afternoon on our website voiceonline.com – and the news went viral.

In our opinion, as we stated in that story on our website: “The selection just does NOT make any sense and is a poor reflection on the quality of members of the Surrey Police Board who just don’t seem to understand why the City needed a new force.

“The significant South Asian population will be badly impacted by this decision and will not cooperate.”

We said, “It will be better to employ 100 new RCMP officers from diverse backgrounds with some connection to Surrey.”

We have also been told by a raft of South Asian officers from different police forces that they are now having second thoughts about applying for the new force.

So let’s see how Lipinski handles the situation.

He could very well surprise us.

According to the Delta Police website, Lipinski “served with the Edmonton Police Service (EPS) before leaving at the rank of Deputy Chief and accepting a position as Assistant Commissioner with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). He was the District Officer in the LMD and the Criminal Operations Officer in E-Division for five years.”

ON Friday, during a virtual press conference, Lipinski said that the new police force would be a community policing model that would be very reflective of the community of Surrey – it would be a very diverse and very inclusive police service with an emphasis on community consultation on a continuous basis.

Responding to questions from journalists, Lipinski said he has a clear vision and a clear path and that having had experience in both municipal policing and the RCMP, he would have a huge advantage in dealing with the transition to the new police force.

He also emphasized the advantages that a municipal force enjoys as compared to the RCMP – the ability to move quickly whether its finance or training or equipment or policies that need to be changed or developed.

He said he wanted the job because he thought it’s the best job in policing in Canada – to have a clean canvas and build a police force with every component of the community including faith groups, businesses, etc.

SURREY Police Board Chair Doug McCallum, who is the Mayor, said in a statement: “We are confident Chief Norm Lipinski is the right leader to bring Surrey into a new era of modern and progressive policing while staying attuned to the priorities of this growing community. A city like Surrey needs a locally governed and accountable service and I am thrilled we are delivering on a promise we made to this city’s residents and business community.”

The Board said in a press release: “Chief Constable Lipinski was selected through a rigorous recruitment process led by a third-party professional search firm and vetted through objective decision-making criteria framework that placed particular emphasis on leadership experience, demonstrable experience promoting progressive policing policies, including commitment to de-escalation training and ability to foster a diverse and inclusive environment. 
“The Chief Constable’s first order of business is to start recruiting officers. The Chief Constable and Surrey Police Board will also immediately get to work developing Surrey Police Service’s first Strategic Plan that will outline the priorities, goals and objectives of the SPS.” 

THE Safe Surrey Coalition congratulated Lipinski, noting that his “diverse policing experience from across Canada will serve Surrey well as the city transitions to a localized force that will offer citizens greater accountability, responsiveness and connection to the local community.”

It added: “The Safe Surrey Caucus is anxious to begin working closely with the new Chief in preparation for the commencement of Surrey Police Service patrols in April, 2021.”

McCallum said: “Chief Lipinski was chosen as part of a rigorous selection process conducted by the Surrey Police Board and exemplifies a new path forward with the kind of quality community-level policing that Surrey deserves.”

Councillor Mandeep Nagra said: “There are a number of groups across Surrey that are looking to foster a closer working relationship with the new police service, and Chief Lipinski offers a perspective that will facilitate this kind of collaboration.”

Councillor Laurie Guerra said: “It is exciting to have a local leader heading up our new Surrey Police Service. Chief Lipinski’s familiarity with the region’s unique issues and challenges will be invaluable in allowing the new service to hit the ground running.”

Councillor Doug Elford said: “Chief Lipinski represents a break from the top-down model of policing that Surrey has dealt with for decades. I am confident that trust will be earned through his efforts to introduce a more grassroots approach to public safety.”

Councillor Allison Patton said: “The selection of Chief Lipinski is an emphatic signal that the new Surrey Police Service will be guided by leadership that puts people first.”