Frequently Asked Questions
Want to know more about the Surrey Police Board and the creation and transition to 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 is the status of the Surrey Police Board?
On November 16, 2023, the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General announced the appointment of Mike Serr as the Administrator of the Surrey Police Board to assume the functions of the board and assist with Surrey’s transition to Surrey Police Service. This appointment was made under Section 8 of the Police Amendment Act, 2023.
On this date, all members of the Surrey Police Board were suspended; they will resume their roles when the Administrator’s appointment is revoked by the provincial government. There is currently no timeline on when the Board appointments will be re-established.
Is the appointment of an Administrator by the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General a reflection of the work done by the board?
Not at all. In fact, on November 16, 2023, the Minister acknowledged that each board member has done their best through what have been unique, challenging, and complicated circumstances – and he looks forward to their continued work and their service once an Administrator is no longer required.
Why was the Surrey Police Board replaced by an Administrator?
In his November 16, 2023 news release, the Minister stated the appointment of an Administrator was needed due to the lack of progress from the City of Surrey in advancing the police transition to SPS. This need was identified by the strategic implementation adviser in the course of her work on the policing transition and numerous meetings with key parties, subject matter experts and stakeholders. You can read the Minister’s full news release here.
What are the qualifications of the Administrator?
Mike Serr served as a police officer for more than 33 years, starting his career with the Vancouver Police Department before joining the Abbotsford Police Department as a Deputy Chief and then being promoted to Chief Constable. He retired in 2023.
As Chief Constable, Mr. Serr worked with the Abbotsford Police Board to develop annual strategic priorities and budgets for the Abbotsford Police Department.
Mr. Serr entered policing with a Bachelor of Arts in Criminology and has completed the Canadian Police College executive development program, critical incident command course, and the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police Institute for Strategic International Studies program. He was active locally and nationally in committee work and was the chairperson of the Drug Advisory Committee for the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP), Chair of the CACP’s Special Purpose Committee on the Decriminalization of Illicit Drugs, and Co-Chair on Health Canada’s Expert Task Force on Substance Use, and was a member of British Columbia’s Core Planning Table on Decriminalization.
How is the Administrator going to report to the public?
The Administrator will continue to hold public board meetings and be available to the media and public on matters related to civilian oversight of Surrey Police Service. Operational policing or transition matters will be referred to the appropriate bodies for response.
How is one person going to oversee the governance of SPS?
The appointment of an Administrator to oversee a police service has never happened before in British Columbia. This was an extraordinary step that was required in order to progress Surrey’s policing transition. Recognizing the critical role of civilian oversight, the Administrator will have access to a variety of independent advisors in the areas of human resources, finance, governance, legal matters, and other issues as they arise.
What does the Surrey Police Board do?
The Surrey Police Board is responsible for the oversight of Surrey Police Service (SPS) and being accountable to the community. The Board conducts consultations with community members and groups, hires the Chief Constable, approves SPS policies and budgets, and addresses service or policy complaints against SPS.
The Board will have regular public meetings . At these meetings, the Chief Constable will report to the Board on a variety of topics including finances, hiring, complaints against officers, crime data, human resources, and other topics as required.
When will the Board consult with the public on 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.
How does financial oversight of Surrey Police Service (SPS) work?
As a legislated requirement, the Board has until November 30 of each year to present a police service budget to the Surrey City Council for consideration. SPS’s financial framework is separate and distinct from the City’s police transition budget, and from the Surrey RCMP’s contract policing budget. The Board is only responsible for the development and oversight of the SPS budget
How many police officers will Surrey Police Service (SPS) have compared to the RCMP?
As Surrey grows, the authorized strength of 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 and by the City. Currently, SPS is still in the building phase and is working towards hiring at least 734 officers, which was the strength of the Surrey RCMP, prior to the start of the transition.
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.
About the Policing Transition
Is Surrey Police Service (SPS) official?
Yes. SPS was established as a bona fide police agency in BC in August 2020. Since that time, SPS has hired hundreds of employees and SPS officers are responding to calls for service in Surrey every day.
In addition, on October 25, 2023, the provincial government passed the Police Amendment Act, 2023, which requires the City of Surrey to provide policing services through a municipal police department (SPS) and gives the Minister the authority to cancel the existing agreement between the Province and the City of Surrey for the RCMP’s services.
When will SPS be fully operational?
The three levels of government, RCMP, and Surrey Police Service (SPS) 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. Phase 2 of the policing transition will involve SPS becoming the police of jurisdiction for Surrey. The process and timeline for SPS to assume command of policing has yet to be determined by the Province of BC.
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 Surrey Police Service?
The Provincial government has authority to grant approvals to Surrey to create SPS. A detailed timeline and clarity on the role of the Provincial government can be found here.
How much community consultation has occurred around creating Surrey Police Service?
In 2021, SPS and the Surrey Police Board conducted a comprehensive community consultation to gather important feedback that informed our first strategic plan. This three-part community consultation project included a community survey, stakeholder interviews, and focus groups to gather feedback from Surrey residents, Indigenous groups, businesses, health, educators, not for profit organizations and community groups.
The results of the 2021 community consultation are shared in two reports completed by independent researchers.
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 one-time policing transition budget was established by City Council to support the infrastructure development of SPS over five years, covering start-up expenses including equipment and IT. In 2020, this budget was increased to $63.7M due to a decision to build new IT infrastructure rather than using the current aging technology.
The recent unionization of the RCMP has increased costs for all RCMP-policed municipalities, closing the gap in costs between the RCMP and municipal police. In addition, the federal 10% subsidy that comes with RCMP contract service comes with a cost to the municipality, as it allows the RCMP and governments to retain some control over detachment resources, including deployments to emergencies and major events.
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.
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.