Residents in Surrey, B.C., may notice police officers patrolling in two different uniforms as the city begins what the RCMP says is the largest police transition in Canada.
The RCMP says in a statement that experienced officers with the new Surrey Police Service began orientation Monday, and each municipal officer would be paired with a Mountie for a few shifts before heading out to respond to calls in RCMP-branded vehicles.
The statement says Surrey Police Service officers will primarily support front-line operations within the RCMP's municipal policing unit, while a smaller number will be assigned to general investigation and major crimes units to start.
The RCMP will maintain command during the transition, overseeing all operational matters and the delivery of programs and services.
Although officers will wear both Surrey Police Service and RCMP uniforms, the statement says all contact information and police station locations remain the same.
Replacing the RCMP with a municipal force was a key pledge in Mayor Doug McCallum's election campaign in 2018, but it has faced criticism with the latest budget estimate coming in $18.5 million more than the original $45-million estimate.
"A policing transition of this magnitude is unprecedented in Canada," says Chief Const. Norm Lipinski with the Surrey Police Service.
"It has required — and continues to require — collaboration and extensive planning between (the Surrey Police Service) and the RCMP, and between the three levels of government."