Surrey's new municipal police force declines to stop hiring Mounties amid gang war
VANCOUVER -- The Surrey Police Service says it has no plans to stop recruiting officers for its new force.
The union representing RCMP officers has asked it to stop recruitment, saying the Metro Vancouver gang war is in such a critical state that removing any officers employed in active duty would be harmful to public safety.
The National Police Federation's call comes as an innocent person was caught in the crossfire of a gang-related shooting over the weekend.
“We have seen a number of operational police officers leaving police forces, whether it's RCMP or other, and going to administrative roles to build this,” said Rob Farrer, of the federation.
“I think our point is, this is not the time for that.”
The SPS has already poached a number of high ranking Mounties and municipal officers including its chief constable, Norm Lipinski, who came from Delta.
However, the new force says it has no plans to stop hiring.
“I can tell you that recruiting for the Surrey Police Service will be continuous and incremental both for experienced officers and new recruits,” Lipinski wrote in a statement to CTV News Vancouver.
He also said he is encouraged by how many police officers who have applied to the new force.
“We have been and will continue to be in communication with other Lower Mainland police leaders (both Municipal and RCMP), and the province of B.C. regarding our recruiting efforts,” Lipinski wrote.
Former Mountie and current Surrey City Councillor Jack Hundial supports the NPF’s call to stop recruiting for the new municipal force.
“It makes a very logical sense for the (Public Safety) Minister Mike Farnworth to look at that request, put a halt on the transition, and so we're not depleting resources from other key areas such as IHIT,” Hundial said.
He says he’s concerned about the ratio of Surrey RCMP officers to the growing population.
Especially since in 2018, city council voted not to hire any new Mounties while the new force got up and running, something Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum had promised would happen by this past April.
“We've increased the population of the city over a four year term, by almost 40,000 people at 1000 people coming in per month, and still with no resources. So if you do the simple math on that, you can see that the resources are being stretched.”
There were two deadly, daylight shootings in the Lower Mainland over the weekend: one in Burnaby, where an innocent victim was also hurt and another at the Vancouver International Airport where RCMP officers say they were shot at.
Mounties say the brazenness of these latest shootings highlights the need for more anti-gang funding.
“Vancouver International Airport had a person in broad daylight shot at (in) the terminal. You know, I don't think there could be a bigger priority right now,” said Farrer of the police federation.
Minister Farnworth says he’s not concerned about the amount of police resources available in the province.
“Staffing has not been an issue in the Lower Mainland. We know we get recruits from the depot in Regina, every year, and the Justice Institute trains municipal police for for the municipal forces,” Farnworth said during a news conference on Monday.
“I can tell you, province wide, in the last couple of years we've added 32 additional police officers,” he said.
Top RCMP brass, Assistant Commissioner Dwayne McDonald of E-Division, had said they would be meeting with Farnworth Tuesday to discuss their “co-ordinated response” to the gang war.
The ministry told CTV News that the meeting is now expected to happen on Thursday.