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Surrey mayor’s ‘withdrawal of service’ complaint about SPS officers called ‘hurtful’

‘I’m distressed by these actions,’ Locke says in letter
Surrey Police Service (SPS) patch. (File photo: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)

Another war of words erupted Tuesday (April 30) in the ongoing political fight over Surrey’s policing transition from the RCMP to Surrey Police Service (SPS).

Mayor Brenda Locke is being criticized by the Surrey Police Board for her “hurtful” official complaint about SPS officers meeting with Solicitor General Mike Farnworth at the city works yard last week.

On Sunday (April 28), Locke filed a complaint with the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner of B.C. alleging “numerous members of the (SPS)” in 24 police vehicles “allegedly withdrew their services to the residents of Surrey” to meet with Farnworth on April 24.

Locke contends that the “withdrawal of service” was not authorized by the RCMP and was directed by SPS Chief Norm Lipinksi.

On Tuesday, a letter of complaint Locke wrote to Brian Edwards, Officer in Charge of Surrey RCMP, was circulated on social media.

“I’m distressed by these actions, which had the potential of impacting the safety of the City of Surrey and members of the RCMP, and, or delaying a timely response by police to calls from the public,” Locke wrote.

• RELATED: Surrey opposes B.C.’s bid for judge to seal info in cop transition case

In response, Surrey Police Board confirmed that “a number of SPS officers did attend a meeting at the SPS Training Centre on April 23 to hear from both Chief Lipinski and Minister Farnworth following the announcement of a police of jurisdiction date for SPS,” a news release stated.

The officers on shift “were never ordered to attend nor withdrawn from service; this was an in-service meeting where on-duty officers had radios and were available for calls,” the board stated, adding: “Over the course of this policing transition, there have been a number of times when officers with SPS and the RCMP have needed to meet with their leadership team or their union to be briefed on significant developments.”

Mike Serr, Surrey Police Board administrator, calls Locke’s complaint “hurtful” and attempted to set the record straight about the April 24 meeting with Farnworth.

“In-service meetings are a common way for police leaders and unions to be able to brief their officers,” Serr stated. “However, public safety always comes first – we are acutely aware of the critical nature of Frontline police work and the need to have officers ready to respond to priority calls at a moment’s notice.”

Serr said it is “highly unfortunate that Mayor Locke continues to misrepresent situations to try to discredit Surrey Police Service. To suggest that our officers would jeopardize the safety of Surrey residents to attend a meeting is not only disrespectful but hurtful to our officers who put their lives on the line for Surrey every day.”

Tom Zillich

About the Author: Tom Zillich

I cover entertainment, sports and news for Surrey Now-Leader and Black Press Media
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