Surrey Police Board clarifies role of City Council in the Surrey Police transition

Surrey Police Service now exists under authority of provincial government – not that of local government

THE Surrey Police Board on Monday addressed recent public statements related to pausing or stopping the police transition and the development of the Surrey Police Service (SPS).
The provincial government approved the SPS transition plan in February 2020. Subsequently the Province created the Surrey Police Board, that legally established the Service under the Police Act. As such, the Surrey Police Service now exists under the authority of the provincial government, not that of the local government.
The Board said that the claim by some parties that a mayor and city council could unilaterally pause or stop the development of SPS is misinformed. The mayor and city council cannot make this decision without the approval of the Province.
The Board said that the 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 Board pointed out that 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.
The Board said that 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 said it 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 B.C., it is necessary to have a police service that is accountable to the civilian oversight of a police board.