April 6, 2021
Mayor Doug McCallum Chair of the Board Surrey Police Service City of Surrey
13450 104 Avenue Surrey BC V3T 1V8
I write you in your capacity as Chair of the Board of the Surrey Police Service (SPS), requesting, on behalf of Surrey taxpayers, an explanation of the SPS’s hiring process and practices.
Specifically, I would like the Board to share the details in the process surrounding the recent hiring of an inspector who had just completed a 90-day driving prohibition for being impaired. As you know, the SPS faces serious credibility challenges due to valid concerns already raised about out-of-control costs and their impact on other city services. There has also been a lack of transparency and community input, with no real explanation of how having fewer officers than the Surrey RCMP will make our city safer.
For a new force working to build a credible reputation in our community, the decision to hire an inspector who has demonstrated such a serious and potentially dangerous lack of judgement creates questions about the hiring process. What is the process for the screening of senior officer candidates? What are the performance standards and benchmarks being set for the SPS? To many in our community this specific hiring decision implies that SPS standards are low or that it is desperate to fill positions. Neither engenders trust.
Frankly, our residents and taxpayers deserve an explanation about this hire and what it indicates about SPS standards. For any police force to be successful, it needs public trust and confidence. These have not been established and will be undermined by this hire and more specifically by the invisible process that allowed the hiring to proceed at all.
We all make mistakes; and we all deserve a second chance. However, the most senior officers in a police department are always going to be held to a higher standard, and rightly so. When it comes to policing and public safety, there is no substitute for demanding the highest standards, best behaviour, and excellent judgement. Surrey residents are entitled to these standards in their police force.
As you know, I have long demanded that Surrey residents have a say in their police force, including a referendum. This specific hire, and the non-transparent process that allowed it, only makes me and many others in our community, insistent that our citizens need the final say on who will police our community. It is the Surrey taxpayer who must pay for this and without transparency or community input it will be extraordinarily difficult for a police force to have credibility.
I look forward to the Board’s reply outlining the process with an explanation for this hire.
Councillor Linda Annis