Frequently Asked Questions
Want to know more about the Surrey Police Board and the creation and transition to the Surrey Police Service? We have compiled the answers to the most frequently asked questions below. We will regularly update the information as the transition progresses.
About the Surrey Police Board
What does the Surrey Police Board do?
The Surrey Police Board is made up of citizens just like you who are deeply embedded within the community and familiar with Surrey’s growth and future ambitions.
Surrey’s diverse and gender-balanced police board is responsible for the oversight of the Surrey Police Service and being accountable to the community. The Board conducts consultations with community members and groups, builds partnerships with community agencies, hires the Chief Constable, approves SPS policies and budgets, and addresses policy complaints against the Service.
The Board will have regular public meetings (approximately monthly) with the Chief Constable. The Chief will report to the Board on a variety of topics including ongoing spending, complaints against officers, crime data, human resources, and other topics as required.
Who is on the Police Board?
The Surrey Police Board members include:
- Cheney Cloke: Vice-Chair, Director at the Fraser Health Authority
- Jessie K. Sunner: Vice-Chair, In-House Legal Counsel for the Hospital Employees’ Union
- Chief Harley Chappell: Chief of the Semiahmoo First Nation
- Manav Gill: Manager, Clinical Operation at Fraser Health
- Elizabeth Model: CEO, Downtown Surrey Business Improvement Association
- Meena Brisard: Regional Director for the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE)
- James Carwana: Independent mediator and arbitrator
Learn more about the Board Members.
What is the Role of the Chair?
The Mayor is the Chair of the Surrey Police Board pursuant to the BC Police Act and is a non-voting member of the Board, except in the case of a tie.
How is the Police Board appointed?
The Surrey Police Board is an appointed body by way of an Order in Council signed by the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia. There are 8 appointments: 7 are provincially appointed and one is recommended to the Province by the City Council through a Council motion. The municipal appointee is also appointed through an Order in Council.
How long is a Board Member on the Board?
Board appointments can be for as little as one year, or for up to six years maximum for any one Board member.
When will the Board consult with the public on the Surrey Police Service?
The Chief Constable will lead community engagement, with oversight from the Board. The Chief will conduct extensive consultation with Indigenous communities, businesses, not-for-profits, health, education, community groups, and residents of Surrey.
How can I be a delegate to the Surrey Police Board?
The Board has four criteria related to being a delegation:
- It must relate to SPS services or policies
- It must affect a segment of the population and not an individual
- It must relate to a strategy of policing, and not the actions of a single officers
- It must relate to the Board’s oversight mandate, rather than day-to-day police operations.
Topics outside of the Board’s mandate such as the decision by City Council to terminate its contract with the RCMP or matters related to a referendum are not within the Board’s scope and will not be heard by the Board.
Learn more about delegate policy and how to apply.
Is the Board responsible for the RCMP?
The Board does not have authority over the RCMP, including the costs associated to contracted services. The RCMP is not accountable to a local civilian oversight Board. Instead, The RCMP members in Surrey are ultimately accountable to the Federal RCMP in Ottawa.
What oversight does the Board have as it relates to costs of the transition to the Surrey Police Service (SPS)?
Police financing through a transition to the RCMP has three distinct budget streams: the RCMP contract policing, the transition costs and the SPS budget. The Board has complete oversight of costs related to the Surrey Police Service but is not responsible for either contract RCMP policing or the City of Surrey transition costs.
How does financial oversight of the Surrey Police Service (SPS) work?
As a legislated requirement, the Board has until November 30, 2020 to present a police service budget to the Surrey City Council for consideration. The SPS’ financial framework is separate and distinct from the City’s police transition budget. The Board is only responsible for the development of the SPS’ budget and will table budgets as per legislation. The information contained in those budgets needs to be ratified by City Council before being made public.
Does the City of Surrey have the funding required to launch its own service?
Policing services in all municipalities is one of the largest budget items, and Surrey is no different. In its budget, the City has provisioned for costs to launch the Service and further questions related to this should be directed to the City.
Once City Council approves the annual SPS budget, it will be governed by the Police Board and managed by the Police Chief.
Will there be fewer police working for SPS at a greater cost compared to the RCMP?
As Surrey grows, the authorized strength of the SPS will be determined by the Board in consultation with the Chief Constable. The number of officers will reflect the policing model which will be based on the priorities identified through public consultation. If, and when, SPS requires increases in officers, the Board will table a budget reflecting that increase to City Council for approval.
There are many differences in costs between the RCMP and an independent police service, such as SPS and it is difficult to make accurate comparisons. For example, under an RCMP contract, Surrey pays administration costs to the RCMP for provincial and federal administration, which will not be an expense for the SPS.
Does SPS need to find new buildings and purchase new cars and equipment?
Surrey owns or leases all of the building currently occupied by the RCMP. As the transition occurs, space will be turned over to SPS as it grows. For other equipment such as cars and radios, these items are also paid for by the City of Surrey and through various agreements and arrangements, will be transferred to SPS.
Why not hold a referendum in order to hear from the residents of Surrey?
Holding a referendum is not within the mandate of the Surrey Police Board, and is instead under the jurisdiction of the City of Surrey. There are very specific terms associated to referendums, and more information can found here.
About the Policing Transition
Is the Surrey Police Service (SPS) official?
Yes. The SPS has a provincially appointed Surrey Police Board that has hired a Chief Constable to begin building the plans to operationalize the SPS. Surrey’s City Council unanimously voted to approve the creation of an independent police service and the Province of British Columbia approved it.
Why does Surrey need an independent, municipal police service?
Surrey is growing: As one of the fastest growing cities in Canada, Surrey is currently the only Canadian municipality with more than 300,000 residents without its own independent, municipal police service.
Public safety is a priority: While Surrey is already a wonderful place to live, work, and raise a family, the city is facing challenges related to crime and poverty that require a community-centric approach to policing.
Police services are evolving: As an independent service overseen by a citizen-led Board, the Surrey Police Service will be best equipped to respond to the complex root causes of crime afflicting the city while reflecting the priorities of its diverse communities.
When will SPS be fully operational?
The SPTTC partners have agreed to a phased, integrated transition process, which began with the deployment of the first group of SPS officers on November 29, 2021. These officers are assigned to positions within the RCMP Municipal Police Unit in Surrey (i.e. Surrey RCMP). The RCMP will remain the police agency of jurisdiction during this point of the policing transition. The deployments of each group are staggered to allow for a seamless and safe integration for the RCMP, SPS and the public.
An Assignment Agreement was signed by the RCMP, SPS, Surrey Police Board and City of Surrey to govern the integration of the first cohort of SPS officers into the RCMP Municipal Police Unit (i.e. Surrey RCMP). This 18-month agreement covers the first phase of Surrey’s policing transition. Once this agreement ends, it will be replaced by another agreement as part of the on-going transition from the RCMP to SPS for municipal policing duties in Surrey. These agreements do not allow any of the parties to ‘opt out’ of the policing transition, which has been approved to move forward.
Our experienced officers have been fully trained and security cleared to municipal police standards. However, for those who are being deployed into the Surrey RCMP, they are also required to undergo an RCMP security clearance process.
SPS and the RCMP have developed a collaborative Human Resources Strategy and Plan that guides the deployment of SPS officers and the related demobilization of RCMP members until May 2023.
What was the recruitment process to hire the Chief Constable, and how long did the process take?
The Chief's recruitment process is illustrated in the attached infographic. The process took approximately 10 months from start to finish including procuring a professional search firm, developing an objective methodology to recruit the right person, and conducting a national search.
What is the role of the Province in creating the Surrey Police Service?
The Provincial government has authority to grant approvals to Surrey to create the SPS. A detailed timeline and clarity on the role of the Provincial government can be found here.
Will there be additional community consultation around creating the Surrey Police Service?
With the leadership of the Surrey Police Service’s Chief Constable, the Board will undertake extensive and ongoing community engagement efforts to gather insights from the public.
Feedback on the key concerns and priorities of Surrey residents, Indigenous groups, businesses, health, educators, not for profit organizations and community groups was used to guide development of the SPS’ first Strategic Plan.
From June to October 2021, SPS and the Surrey Police Board undertook a three-part community consultation project which will provide the foundation for the development of a community policing model and SPS’s first strategic plan.
The results of the 2021 community consultation are shared in two reports completed by independent researchers and an executive summary.
What if the SPB budget for the police service is not approved? Will that impact the transition and the ‘go live’ date for the service?
In the event that any municipality in British Columbia fails to pass a budget related to city services, the matter is taken to the province for arbitration.
What are the costs associated with the Surrey Police Transition?
Updates on SPS’s operational budget and the one-time policing transition budget are released regularly by the Surrey Police Board and can be found here. The reported costs include any services provided by the City of Surrey to SPS, as well as the salaries of any City employees who have been temporarily seconded to SPS.
The cost of the infrastructure of the transition will be approximately $64M, phased over five years. This will cover start-up expenses, including equipment and information technology infrastructure. The cost of running SPS on an annual basis is currently projected at $206M by 2025 and is within the City’s approved five-year financial plans. Approximately 80-90% of police costs relate to salaries, given the 24/7 operational requirements.
The City currently pays 90% of the cost for assets, including vehicles and equipment acquired by RCMP, for policing in Surrey. The current policing agreements set out a process for the transfer of assets in the case of the termination of a Municipal Police Unit Agreement.
The City owns or leases all facilities currently used by the Surrey RCMP and SPS. SPS will operate out of existing facilities during and after the transition.
The City currently pays for training of RCMP members (at RCMP Depot in Regina) through the RCMP contract budget. Future SPS recruits will pay a portion of the costs of their training at Justice Institute of BC, and they will receive a salary while they attend training.
The unionization of the RCMP and its new collective agreement will increase costs for all RCMP-policed municipalities, closing the gap in operating costs between the RCMP and municipal police.
The SPS is an investment in the future of our rapidly developing city. Public safety is an area where you want the best service, not the least expensive.