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HomeBusinessExclusive: Surrey Police paid spokesman $14,500 for July invoice

Exclusive: Surrey Police paid spokesman $14,500 for July invoice

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Bob Mackin

Surrey taxpayers received a $14,500 bill from the spokesman for the fledgling municipal police force for the month of July.

Surrey Police Chief Norm Lipinski.

Chief Norm Lipinski approved the July 30 invoice from MacDonald Media 360 for the period beginning July 3. A copy of the invoice, released under the freedom of information law, shows Lipinski signed-off on the payment on Aug. 4.

Lipinski ignored a request for comment from theBreaker.news. Contracted spokesman Ian MacDonald retired in 2019 from a 22-year career at the Abbotsford Police Department, where he was public information officer for eight years. Based on the invoice, MacDonald’s contract would be worth more than $165,000-a-year, plus GST.

Meanwhile, mixed signals from the Surrey Police Service freedom of information office.

A supporter of the Keep the RCMP in Surrey campaign was told that one senior officer had no email in her outbox after two months, but she received an invoice after asking for email from another senior officer’s inbox.

The supporter, who asked not to be identified, had applied for all email sent by Deputy Chief Jennifer Hyland between July 1 and Aug. 31, but SPS said there was none.

MacDonald denied Hyland had deleted any email and claimed that her messages were transferred to a shared drive for document management purposes. He did not explain why SPS did not simply search that drive and provide the emails that Hyland had sent during the summer.

The RCMP supporter asked separately for all email in Supt. Allison Good’s inbox box for the same two month period, but received a $300 invoice. SPS claimed it would take 13 hours to locate, retrieve, produce and prepare the records.

The RCMP supporter had previously received email from the accounts of Lipinski and other senior officers without any hassle. 

If the NDP passes Bill 22, the SPS could charge $25 per FOI request in addition to search fees for larger, more complex files. The Surrey RCMP is under the federal Access to Information Act, which requires a flat $5 application fee. No additional fees are charged.

Fifty SPS officers are scheduled to begin ride-alongs wth Surrey RCMP officers at the end of this month, the first phase of Mayor Doug McCallum’s plan to replace the Mounties with a municipal force. The cop swap may take until 2023 or 2024 to complete, unless a campaign to derail the transition succeeds.

The Surrey Police Vote petition aimed at forcing a referendum is nearing its Nov. 15 signature drive deadline. It won’t meet the province-wide threshold, but organizers hope to gain enough support in each of the Surrey provincial ridings to prompt the NDP cabinet to order a vote anyway.

McCallum is under investigation for allegedly lying about an RCMP supporter running over his foot in a strip mall parking lot in September. The Attorney General’s ministry appointed Richard Fowler as special prosecutor. 

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