Chief Lipinski Looks Forward to Year of Growth in 2024
December 14th will mark three years since Norm Lipinski took the helm as the Chief Constable of Surrey Police Service (SPS). On that date in 2020, SPS was just four months old and Chief Lipinski was the sole employee, surrounded only by the Surrey Police Board and a small City of Surrey start up team.
Today, SPS has 394 employees and one dog (Ragnar, a trained Occupational Stress Injury dog), with officers responding to calls for service in Surrey every day.
Despite the challenges of an unprecedented policing transition and the unexpected delays following the 2022 municipal election, SPS has continued to make progress over the past year. An additional 70 officers were deployed into policing operations this year, and 37 recruits graduated from the JIBC Police Academy. SPS also launched its Community 1st Unit, which works to build long-term relationships with Surrey communities, with a particular focus on groups that have a historic distrust of police.
“With the provincial government’s decision to continue with the policing transition and the recent enactment of the Police Amendment Act, 2023, it is great to end the year with certainty for the future of Surrey Police Service,” says Chief Constable Norm Lipinski. “I am really looking forward to 2024 when we will continue to work with all stakeholders to accelerate the transition.”
SPS’s 2024 provisional budget was recently approved by the Surrey Police Board Administrator and sent to City Council for review. It is a foundational budget for the growth of SPS as the policing transition moves forward. With the anticipated hiring of 180 SPS officers, SPS would make up over 50% of the blended SPS/RCMP police service by the end of 2024. Importantly, the SPS 2024 budget is not predicated on requesting ‘new’ funds, but rather shifting the allocation of funds from the City’s overall policing financial plan: as SPS scales up, its budget allocation increases, while the RCMP’s allocation decreases as they scale down.
While the exact plan for the deployments and demobilizations of officers for 2024 is currently being determined by the three levels of government, SPS, and the RCMP, there is no doubt that Surrey residents will see more SPS uniforms in the community next year.
“There are many moving pieces to coordinate with a transition of this size, so things take time, but I am very excited for the future of policing here in Surrey,” says Chief Lipinski. “We are looking at a lot of initiatives to provide Surrey with an outstanding police service that is rooted in community policing and includes a comprehensive community engagement program and new gang prevention model. We are also looking at body worn cameras and a drone program, as well as having some two-person vehicles for a safer police response.”
When looking back over his past three years as Chief, Lipinski acknowledges there have been a number of challenges, but he tends to focus on the many milestones and accomplishments reached by SPS.
“We have built an outstanding training program for our officers, consulted and engaged with countless community members, and responded to thousands of calls for service. Even designing our uniform and equipping hundreds of officers was a big project, but we got there,” says Chief Lipinski. “It’s actually quite amazing what has been achieved in just three years. As I often say to my team, SPS makes a way out of no way!”
Surrey Police Service