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HomeBusinessExclusive: She said, he said — RCMP accuses Surrey of police-poaching

Exclusive: She said, he said — RCMP accuses Surrey of police-poaching

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Bob Mackin

British Columbia’s top Mountie accused the Surrey Police Service’s chief of poaching.

B.C. RCMP commander Jennifer Strachan (left) and Surrey Police Chief Norm Lipinski.

In a March 11 letter, obtained via the freedom of information law, Commanding Officer Jennifer Strachan told Surrey Chief Norm Lipinski that she had received complaints from numerous RCMP personnel receiving calls at work from Surrey Police recruiters, asking if they would consider retiring from the RCMP and joining the new police force.

“I want to share my concerns that these calls are coming into colleagues via their RCMP phone numbers and during work hours. A number have expressed their discomfort,” wrote Strachan, who runs the Surrey-headquartered B.C. division. “I fully support you and your team in accomplishing the enormous task of recruiting new employees, but would respectfully request that your human resources team adjust their approach to avoid further complaints.”

Strachan wanted Lipinski to be mindful that the transition is stressful for those directly impacted, particularly those that work at the Surrey RCMP detachment.

“Ultimately, our two agencies will need to work together in the future, and I know that you are as committed to encouraging positive working relationships among all our employees, as I am.”

When he finally replied March 23, Lipinski denied Strachan’s allegation and delivered a zinger in return.

“I have discussed this issue with my deputy chiefs, and we are not aware of anyone at the Surrey Police Service making the phone calls in such a manner as you indicated. It would be helpful if you could provide specific details,” wrote Lipinksi, a former senior Mountie. “Also, I totally agree that cooperation between the two agencies is important. To that end, it is our view that the RCMP can improve in this realm.”

(RCMP)

The Surrey Police Service recruitment website says that years of prior policing will be recognized in its salary and annual vacation formulas and it includes documents about “pension options for RCMP officers.” Specifically, the transfer from the Federal RCMP Pension Program to the B.C. Municipal Pension Program. Surrey is offering $75,488-a-year for rookies to $145,584 for staff sergeants, plus a benefits package.

Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum promised the new police force would be up and running by April 2021, but could take until the end of 2023 or start of 2024. The transition is costing Surrey taxpayers $63.7 million.

The force is expected to employ 1,500 people, including 800 officers. As of April 22, Lipinski had hired three superintendents and 10 inspectors. Another 11 who are sergeants or staff sergeants are starting this month or next.

Most of Lipinski’s announced hires are former Mounties.

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