New Surrey police Chief Norm Lipinksi said Friday he’s proud to have landed “the best job in policing in Canada right now.”
“The ability to also have a clean canvas and build a police department with the community, I think is very, very attractive,” Lipinski said after being introduced at a news conference by Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum and members of the Surrey Police Board.
The veteran of the Edmonton Police Service, the RCMP’s E Division and Delta Police said, “I think it’s fair to say that I’m a person of achievement.”
“And I’m a person that endorses community policing. And I have a certain vision, a certain model in mind. But before I do anything, it will be consultation with the police board and consultation with the community.
“I recognize that there is much work to be done. And I also recognize that we must continue to earn the trust of the citizens of this vibrant and growing city. This is going to take time. This is going to take a lot of work,” he said.
The announcement is the latest move toward the establishment of a municipal force to replace the RCMP — an issue that has divided Surrey residents.
Surrey Councillor Linda Annis said Friday she has worked with Lipinski in the past in her role as executive director of Crime Stoppers.
“I have a huge amount of respect for him … and I think he certainly is a good choice for a police chief,” Annis said.
But she’s still concerned about the overall process of moving to a municipal force because of “the lack of transparency.”
Annis said Surrey RCMP’s officer-in-charge Brian Edwards was given no notice of a proposed cut in 2021 of 25 per cent, contained in the Surrey budget proposal released this week.
“That to me is just wrong,” Annis said. “There was no advance warning. There was no consultation.”
Annis is worried there will be a move to cut the RCMP before the new force is up and running, leaving Surrey vulnerable.
“The very last thing that I want to happen in Surrey is for us to look like we’re open for business for criminal activity, and you know, when there’s a disruption in policing it makes you very vulnerable.”
But McCallum said Lipinski is the perfect choice because he has experience in both municipal policing and the RCMP so will be able to be a bridge during the transition.
“Chief Lipinski was chosen as part of a rigorous selection process conducted by the Surrey Police Board and exemplifies a new path forward with the kind of quality community-level policing that Surrey deserves,” McCallum said.
Edwards congratulated Lipinski on his new job, adding that he only got the news when it was released to the media.
“It was my pleasure to work closely with Chief Lipinski when he served with the RCMP. I look forward to working with him again,” he said.
A day earlier, Edwards wrote to city council to ask for details on how the proposed cut would be implemented.
He then sent an internal memo to staff, which Postmedia obtained, saying, “if the budget reduction goes ahead, it will impact adequate and effective levels of policing in the city.”
On Friday, however, Edwards was telling Surrey residents to “feel confident that your safety remains our top priority as we move through this process.”
“It is important for all Surrey residents to know that, at this time, the RCMP continues to maintain responsibility for policing in Surrey,” Edwards said, adding that the contract with the Mounties has not yet been terminated.
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