THE top three policing priorities for Surrey citizens are violent crimes (91%), organized crime gangs (88%), and timely response to urgent calls for police service (86%), according to a three-part community consultation project that was undertaken by the Surrey Police Service (SPS) and the Surrey Police Board from June to October.
* 90% of residents want SPS officers to have body-worn cameras;
* Most important criteria for SPS officers: representative of Surrey’s culture and diversity (64% somewhat/very important), and fluency in another language (63%);
* Strong community support for an SPS School Resource Officer program informed by best practice programs in other jurisdictions and tailored to the needs of Surrey schools and students;
* Desire for the creation of a Community Safety Officer or Special Municipal Constable program.
The community consultation project will provide the foundation for the development of a community policing model and SPS’s first strategic plan. The results of this consultation are available to the public, including the two reports completed by independent researchers and an executive summary, which has been translated into four additional languages.
This community consultation initiative included a community survey, designed by Dr. Eli Sopow and delivered by Insights West Market Research, and stakeholder interviews and focus groups, which were designed and delivered by Dr. Curt Griffiths, a professor in the Criminal Justice Department at Simon Fraser University, with the support of officers with SPS’s Community Policing Bureau.
In total, over 1,200 Surrey citizens were consulted during this project. The SPS said it was important to gather qualitative and quantitative information that is representative of Surrey’s total population and its many diverse groups. The sample sizes used for this consultation are considered statistically accurate for Surrey’s population by the researchers involved in this project. Input was gathered from Indigenous leaders, seniors, the differently abled, school officials, the LGBTQ2S+ community, the private sector, organizations focused on housing, mental health and addictions, newcomers, youth, and others.
While this consultation project was solely focused on the future development of SPS, the survey included an open-ended portion which some respondents used to voice their opinion of the policing transition in Surrey. Six percent (6%) of residents who provided their opinion of Surrey policing priorities indicated their support for keeping the RCMP as the policing service for the city.
The Surrey Police Board and the SPS leadership team will use the results from this consultation to inform SPS’s first strategic plan. The plan will be developed in the fall of 2021 and released in early 2022. This input will also be used to develop a community policing service delivery model for SPS, which will be operationalized when SPS becomes the official police agency of jurisdiction for Surrey.
“Surrey Police Service sincerely appreciates the input and insights offered by the citizens of Surrey during this consultation process,” said SPS Chief Constable Norm Lipinski. “This is only the beginning – SPS is committed to regular community consultations, engagement and collaboration to help inform policing in Surrey.”