Surrey's new municipal police force to have officers on the ground by November
Incoming city service will completely replace local RCMP after initial transition period
Fifty officers hired by the new Surrey Police Service will be hitting the city's streets this November, according to a statement from the newly established force.
It will be the first boots on the ground for the municipal police department, which was created to replace the local RCMP detachment after the B.C. government approved the switch in February 2020.
Replacing the RCMP with a city-controlled force was promoted by Doug McCallum, who campaigned for and was elected mayor on the plan in October 2018 and pledged in May 2020 to have the Surrey Police Service (SPS) patrols start in April 2021.
Those first patrols are now expected to take place on or before Nov. 30.
The 50 officers will be part of a "phased, integrated transition process," according to the statement and will be assigned to positions within the RCMP Municipal Police Unit in Surrey.
"We look forward to working with the Surrey RCMP during this phased transition as we work together to ensure the continuing safety of Surrey residents," said Chief Const. Norm Lipinski.
According to the SPS, this first group of 50 officers will be followed by subsequent groups of officers as the phased transition gathers momentum between now and 2023.
The decision to terminate RCMP services in Surrey was met with opposition from some residents, as well as the union representing Mounties.
The Surrey RCMP currently has about 1,000 police officers, support staff and volunteers.
In April 2020, the National Police Federation conducted a survey of 803 randomly selected adults living in the city.
The survey showed that 60 per cent of respondents were opposed to the plan at the time.
The incoming police force has also been criticized in recent months for a perceived lack of diversity among new hires.
Recruiting for the force is active and ongoing, said a spokesperson for the Surrey Police Service in May, adding the force is focused on diversity among all ranks and is confident that the diversity of the city will be reflected.