Surrey Police Board temporarily suspended, former Police Chief Mike Serr appointed to speed up policing transition

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VICTORIA, BC: BC’s Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth has appointed Mike Serr as the administrator of the Surrey Police Board to assume the functions of the board to assist with city’s troubled transition to the Surrey Police Service.
Farnworth said that the appointment of Serr as administrator will help move forward the transition to completion.
All members of the Surrey Police Board have been suspended and they will resume their roles when the administrator’s appointment concludes, Farnworth informed in a statement.
He said, “This appointment was made under Section 8 of the Police Amendment Act, 2023, after careful consideration of the work by the Surrey Police Board, which has been limited due to the lack of progress from the City of Surrey in advancing the police model transition to the SPS.”
This need was identified by Jessica McDonald as the strategic implementation adviser in the course of her work on the transition and numerous meetings with key parties, subject matter experts and stakeholders.
“I want to personally thank each member of the board for volunteering their time and for their dedication and commitment, while undertaking this challenging work to date. I know the Surrey Police Board and each board member has done their best through what has been unique, challenging and complicated circumstances. I look forward to their continued work and their service to the people of Surrey once an administrator is no longer needed,” Farnworth said.
Serr served as a police officer for more than 33 years, starting his career with the Vancouver Police Department in 1990. He has worked in a variety of challenging positions.
In 2015, Serr joined the Abbotsford Police Department as a deputy chief and was promoted to chief constable in September 2018. He retired from the Abbotsford Police Department in the fall of 2023.
As chief constable, Serr developed annual strategic priorities and budgets for the Abbotsford Police Board, while also helping manage the public-safety response to the floods in Abbotsford in 2021.
Serr entered policing with a bachelor of arts in criminology. He continued to pursue educational opportunities, having 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), as well as chair of the CACP’s Special Purpose Committee on the Decriminalization of Illicit Drugs. He was co-chair on Health Canada’s Expert Task Force on Substance Use and a member of British Columbia’s Core Planning Table on Decriminalization.
SPS chief Norm Lipinski said, “I want to take this opportunity to thank the members of the Surrey Police Board for the outstanding work they have done over the past three years to stand up a brand-new police agency while navigating an unprecedented policing transition. These board members have done an enormous amount of work to get Surrey Police Service to the point it is at today. The work of good governance can be thankless, but strong policies, clear organizational direction, and transparent financial oversight are critical to both the organization and the public.”
“The decision to suspend the Surrey Police Board should not overshadow their commitment and diligence to our members and the residents of Surrey. The Board members have done an outstanding job in shepherding Surrey Police Service through an unprecedented policing transition,” said Rick Stewart, President of the Surrey Police Union. “However, the time has come for this policing transition to be expedited with a more streamlined process that will allow all parties to work towards the completion of the project.”
“We are confident that Administrator Serr will help to facilitate an expeditious completion of the policing transition, ensuring costs are minimized for residents and enabling all officers to progress in their careers,” Stewart added.
In July, the province used its powers to order the city to continue the transition from the RCMP to the SPS. The order escalated existing tensions between the two levels of government by effectively forcing Surrey’s new council to reverse its decision to keep the RCMP.
In response, the city announced it was filing a petition in B.C. Supreme Court challenging the provincial order. Last month, Farnworth introduced legislation that, if approved, would force the City of Surrey to complete its transition from the RCMP to the Surrey Police Service.