Jennifer Hyland is the Deputy Chief Constable for the newly created Surrey Police Service (SPS) in Canada. A Canadian police veteran, Jennifer served for a municipal police agency and later joined the Royal Candian Mounted Police (RCMP). She has served in a number of capacities. In January 2021, Jennifer Hyland was appointed as the first Deputy Chief Constable for the new Surrey Police Service.
We talked about the evolution of the SPS, the planning, hiring, and staffing of a new agency for a municipality larger than Vancouver, Britsh Columbia. Discussion surrounded running meetings, developing a culture of service, women in policing, and meeting the needs of a diverse community.
Our conversation was interrupted by internet instability and we ended abruptly. We will talk with DCC Hyland again soon. The discussion on the efforts to create from scratch is impressive. The department is beginning to send out SPS officers and over the next few years, the SPS will grow from 100 to over 800 sworn officers. No policies are adapted from another agency. instead, all policies are created from scratch!
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Steve Morreale (00:31)
Well, hello again, everybody. This is Steve Morreale and I'm coming to you from Boston. You're listening to The CopDoc Podcast. I am in a Can/Am discussion today - Canada and America. And I'm talking to Deputy Chief Constable Jennifer Highland at the Surrey Police Service. Hello, Jennifer.
Jennifer Hyland (00:49)
Hello, Steve. Thanks for having me.
Steve Morreale (00:51)
Thank you very much. You came to my attention because you were very active in pushing out the message of this new police service called a Surrey Police Service. And I think in this world, it is so unusual to work through starting something from scratch. And it seems to me that you were on the ground level, and I'd love to discuss that with you so you can share it with our listeners. I will tell you, I have Canadian roots, but they're in the Maritimes. My grandparents were from both Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island, and so it means an awful lot. And in Massachusetts, we're not far from the border. But tell us about your history before we get started as to how you ended up at Surrey.
Jennifer Hyland (01:29)
Sure. Actually, my policing career started in the municipal policing world. So in Canada, especially in BC, you hear people talk about municipal police and RCMP. And the big difference between them is that the RCMP and Canada are similar to what the FBI would be like in the United States if the FBI also policed communities. So the RCMP is a federal police force. They do federal policing, provincial policing, and then they also contract themselves out if a community wants the RCMP, if they don't want the RCMP, they have a municipal police service. So big ones that you'd be aware of are Toronto police, Montreal, Calgary, Edmonton, and the Vancouver Police Department. And so my policing career started in the city of New Westminster, and that's NBC small little, I guess you called mid sized 120 odd police officers. And I did that for about four years. I made the decision to move over to the federal police force CRCP, not because I actually didn't like municipal policing, but because my husband worked in New West and we had started dating. And I knew one of two things was going to happen. I'm either working with my husband for the next 30 years, which I did not want to do, or we're not going to work out, and I don't want to work with my ex boyfriend for the next 30 years.
Steve Morreale (02:41)
That's a good one. Yes.
Jennifer Hyland (02:43)
So I ended up moving over to the RCMP. It was the one time in 2001 they started actually just taking lateral officers right over into the RCMP. And so I did that. And my first posting ended up being Surrey BC. So I spent five and a half years policing Surrey BC as a RCMP officer. Then my career led me to promotions in the town of Maple Ridge, where my family grew up. My mom and dad were born and raised in Maple Ridge. So I spent many years there. And then I became a commissioned officer, which is becoming the rank of Inspector. And I spent some time in the community of North Vancouver, also in the lower mainland. And then I went back to Maple Ridge, where I became the chief of police in the RCMP for the community of Maplewood. And right about there, I had about 23, almost 24 years in policing and had been a lot of talk. So the talk of three switching from the RCMP to municipal policing had been going on since around 2018. So when the election happened and Doug McCallum and his slate became the elected officials, they lobbied the provincial government to change the policing model.
Jennifer Hyland (03:47)
And the provincial government gets to decide whether or not they're going to agree with that switch in policing. And they agreed. So when you talk about the original plan, the plan and the people that worked on that were at work on this for two years before any of us police officers showed up. So the actual base plan of deciding what it's going to look like was not developed by us as the police officers. It was a whole series of project and program managers and people who looked at really big, high-level things that you would need to convert to a new police organization. And then the police officers started showing up, and the chief of police was the first, Norm Lipinski. He was hired in December of 2020.
Steve Morreale (04:26)
You were right behind him, aren't you?
Jennifer Hyland (04:27)
Yeah. And about a week after he got the job, I received a call from him asking if I would come on as one of his first deputy Chiefs. And so I started in January of 2021. So I've been at it just over a year now.
Steve Morreale (04:39)
So there's a couple of things. First thing when you talk about it in the States and then being in Massachusetts, one of the things that we don't like is regionalization. We like local control. And I also think that that's probably one of the reasons this happened. What I'm not hearing is there is no provincial police in BC.
Jennifer Hyland (04:54)
No. So interesting enough, there used to be a provincial police service in DC up until the 1950. So in the late 1800 through the early 1900, it was the BC provincial police. And they would provincial police. I think I got to try to check my history. But sometime in ultimately, 1951 was when the city of Surrey, who was policed by originally a municipal police service through the provincial police service, decided to cancel the contract and contract the RCMP.
Steve Morreale (05:30)
Jennifer Hyland (05:31)
So there was originally a BC police service. The RCMP was deemed as police program that was either more efficient or more effective or maybe financially more feasible. So the province switched over. So the provincially contracted police service for BC right now is the RCMP. It used to be a provincial police force. And there has been several studies and there's been some discussion about whether or not the province of BC will go back. You might have heard in the news province of Alberta is seeking to remove or leave their contract with the RCMP and have an Alberta provincial place service back. And so there's provincial-level placing, the municipal-level placing. So BC hasn't had the conversation about moving away from the RCP provincially yet, but the province of Alberta has. And you'll see in Ontario like it's the Ontario provincial police throughout Canada. We have a kind of a combination of RCMP and provincial police services and municipal just kind of a smattering across the country.
Steve Morreale (06:27)
So let's talk about that for a moment. You've had that experience of being the representative for RCMP at a station, and do you see that it might be I don't want federal control. I'm not talking about you, but the local politicians that we would like more local control. Is that similar that we see in the United States?
Jennifer Hyland (06:44)
Yeah, 100%. And it's actually the driving reason why this community of Surrey wants to switch over. The RCMP is an amazing organization to police an entire country and provide three levels of provincial, federal and municipal policing is no small task. There's remote communities, there's big, large urban areas. And you have to figure out how to recruit, hire and train and deploy people across it. So it's not easy to do. But if you're an organization or a city like the size of three and you have the ability to establish and staff and find your own local police organization, then the way the manner in which it's police. And you're saying in the projects, you're saying the priorities, what's important to you as a community is almost instantaneously applied. And the difference with a federal organization like the RCMP is they are mandated to have federal priorities. And a lot of what I had to do when I was a commander in a community, a small community is I had to make good on those federal priorities that came from the Commissioner out of Ottawa. So you could have a series of people having meetings about what they thought was important across the country at a high level.
Jennifer Hyland (07:48)
And you would have to apply those. Even if there were other community-based issues that were really important, you still would have to make sure those RCMP priorities were taken into consideration. And that's because it's sort of the high level what kind of generally applies to everyone. And so sometimes the minutiae of what a community needed would be left out of those. You can't have a real specific plan when you have thousands of communities to police across the country. So that homegrown, we feel like we're heard and you're doing the things that really make a difference to our community. You get that when you have your own municipal police organization.
Steve Morreale (08:21)
Okay. Tell me about Surrey, the new Surrey Police Service. It is not a regional service. It is a municipal service. So tell us about Surrey.
Jennifer Hyland (08:29)
Yeah. So the Surrey Police Service is meant to be a municipal police service. Now, that doesn't mean that we aren't going to be active partners in some of the regional teams. So in the lower mainland, we have independent police organizations on the RCMP. But we recognize that there are certain types of work that are really valuable to be interconnected because you can drive across the border in five minutes from one community to the next. Criminals don't pay attention to borders. So we have regional teams in areas of homicide, our emergency response teams, our dog teams, our traffic teams. So there's a lot of regionalization where we do build these teams, where there's representation from all organizations.
Steve Morreale (09:08)
And you must have mutual aid agreements
Jennifer Hyland (09:11)
100%. And so those teams build the ability for people to have relationships, understand what other regions look like, and be able to function really well. So Surrey police will stay involved in those regional teams. But when it comes to the actual day-to-day municipal policing or that uniform frontline call for service that is going to be taken over by us as an organization. So what does Surrey look like? Well, Surrey is probably considered I believe it's one of the fastest growing communities in Canada. It's certainly in the province of BC. We're on track and anticipated to be larger than the city of Vancouver. Really, the immigration and the movement of people is to the geographic area of Surrey. It's development. I believe there are 1000 new residents in Surrey every month. So its growth is phenomenal. It's development is phenomenal. If you look at it on a map, it's well placed, very close to the Washington state border, really close to ferries. It's in the region. It's a very large geographical area that's still got lots of room for development. And one of the biggest things is they still have relatively affordable housing. And so you're seeing a lot of movement into the community, Surrey is known as being one of the largest ethnically diverse populations in the province.
Jennifer Hyland (10:24)
And we have a very large Indigenous First Nations community here, one of the largest in the province of BC of Indigenous and First Nations people living in the community. So actually living in the population, I believe the last census showed that the community of Surrey was ethnically diverse. And it breaks down from South Asian to Asian to various cultures across the country. You would actually I don't like to use the term melting pot, but there are some really distinct communities that sit within the city of Surrey and even in the neighborhood. So they have different districts in which we place there's considered six-city centers. And you can actually see those communities kind of rallying around where they live and where they work and the type of businesses they set up based on a variety of districts within the city of Surrey. So it's quite a welcoming community. It's one of those communities where people can really find a home for their culture. There are so many civic events that recognize all different walks of life and way of believing, not just ethnically and religiously. So it's quite a welcoming community.
Jennifer Hyland (11:31)
It's extremely diverse in Canada.
Steve Morreale (11:33)
What's the population?
Steve Morreale (11:34)
500 and I think 60,000. Yeah, 560,000.
Steve Morreale (11:40)
Great. There must be a number of different languages being spoken and that's not an easy choice to have the ability to service those and get to know the community. It seems to me that community policing is going to be extremely important for your agency. But before we get to that, since there was probably a framework for the police Department and you come in a year ago, what are the things that you were having to do? I can't imagine how many priorities were going on. Order this. Get rid of that. We got to have this. We have to dothat. Who's got the cars, who've got the radio, what radio system? There's a lot of things to work on. And where are we going to get our people and how are we going to vet our people and how are we going to train our people? Are we going to accept transfers? Are we going to be selective? Please tell me all the things that have been on your plate. What are you laughing at?
Jennifer Hyland (12:25)
Well, because it would be about a month-long show for me to tell you the things that are on my plate. I think the things that are most interesting to people is the recruiting and the hiring. Going from zero to 850 and in a few years time is no small task. When we have been able to make quick decisions that make sense, we don't do a conference poll on decision-making for everything. We would just never get anything done. So when it made sense to go with the block or a certain type of uniform and we did RFP and we still had companies bid on the services. So we followed all those legal streams which you have to do in an organization. It would have been easier if you could just come in and just say, I picked this and this, but you have to follow legal processes and transparent ethical processes to get the job done. And you do that amidst the pandemic and recognize that if this would have been hard enough to do, if there was no pandemic, and then you add the pandemic and access to equipment and the ability of the providers to even make good on their orders.
Jennifer Hyland (13:21)
It was a challenge. I think the thing everybody is really interested in is where do you find the human beings? And the human beings are what make or break police organizations, quite frankly.
Steve Morreale (13:29)
Jennifer Hyland (13:29)
So we always knew that there was going to be a division of experienced officers. We had to bring in at various ranks and experience, and that we wanted to bring in brand new to policing. People who would be homegrown SPS didn't come from anywhere and there would be a balance between those two. So you talked about the languages. Right now we speak 28 different languages. We recruited specifically because we know we're so ethnically diverse. And it is about community policing. It's about making sure when you show up to someone's home in crisis that there is a police officer who's going to not only understand their culture, but be able to talk to them in a language, in their moment of need that they understand. And we were committed to finding the people that could do all of those things. So how do we do that? What's our ethical standard? I can tell you very gratefully. It's something I think every night it says that people are interested in coming to what we're doing, whether that is the way we recruited or what we've said, how we've gotten out there and talked about our vision, our philosophy, what a modern police service looks like to us is connecting to really good people.
Jennifer Hyland (14:34)
We don't have to hire everybody who applies. We turn people away. One of the most stressful things for me was in the first few weeks I was hired, and I had to put out the first postings to get the next set of leaders. I was looking for superintendents and inspectors, and we put the posting out on a Friday and I went home and I never slept all weekend. And my husband said, what are you worried about? And I said, well, it's me and the chief. And what if no one else comes?
Steve Morreale (14:56)
What if we throw a party and nobody shows up? Right.
Jennifer Hyland (14:59)
It's just us, right. Like, he came first, I came second, and my task was to get the rest of the 800 there. And when I came in on Monday morning and I pulled the applications for who'd put in over the weekend, I could almost burst into tears with the quality of the people because I knew them. They were some of the best police leaders in the province, had applied to come and be part of our team. And I knew that if I always picked the right layer at the right time, they would draw the next group of people and so on. So the strategy has always been to find really authentic, connected people that connect to the next group of people, and that has been the recruiting strategy, and it's worked very well so far.
Steve Morreale (15:36)
That's terrific. So it seems to me. That's not an easy chore for sure. And yet what was your timeline and where are you at now?
Jennifer Hyland (15:43)
Right, so, good question. So we knew we needed to get from zero to about 850 is what we call steady-state. So the RCMP are policing the community of Surrey with a set number. It's a lower number than what we will do because they get supported by divisional and national teams that will do their recruiting. So the three RCP don't run a training center, they don't do any hiring. That's all done at depot. And so when we switch over, we need certain teams and a certain number that's beyond what the RCMP needs. So we're shooting to get to about 850, which is our sort of initial steady state of we're all in place, and then we'll go from there. And what was the timeline for that was to be at zero to the steady-state by the end of 2023. So sometime in the end of 2023 or early 2024 that we'd be hitting close to whatever that number looks like. Now, that is a very achievable number for us. There are a lot of parties in this marriage. So the marriage that we're in right now involves the provincial government, the federal government, and local municipal government, and everybody has a stake.
Jennifer Hyland (16:48)
So the federal government has to be able to transfer all of those RCMP members to other RCMP jobs. The provincial government is responsible for making sure policing in the region isn't destabilized. Meaning if 50 people from one organization applied to us, they need to make sure we don't take them all in one month. And the municipal government ultimately wants their new police service stood up right away. So there's all these different competing interests, and I am the hiring master to all those different Masters. I'm the hiring person, so I have to make sure that I don't take too many people from one organization. We spread it out over time. We give the RCMP time to staff and move their people across the country. And so whether or not that number of 850 happens at the end of 2023 or sometime in 2024 is going to be as we switch people in and they start to redeploy people out to other jobs, how efficient and fluid can we be? So do they need more time to find people, say somebody's home that they're going to transfer to is in another province. So how much time do they need to be able to do that?
Jennifer Hyland (17:44)
So this year is the first year where we're really starting to move our people into their positions. So last year we hired 150 police officers by the end of 2021. We're approved to hire 200 this year. So you're phasing this in 100% and nobody thought we could hire 800 and then flick the switch one day. So we'll be 350 in there by the end of this year. And we're hoping the number as we start, everyone gets used to the system that we start to being able to be more efficient. The training and the switch over all starts to function a little bit more smooth. Everything is a little clunky when you first start doing it. But we have close to, I think, 70 people in working over there right now. And this summer, between now and the end of the year, we'll have another ultimately we'll have 175 that go in between now and the end of the year. And we'll have 300 and 325 will be our police officer, allotment and about 50 civilians. So we'll be an organization of 400 by December. And so we're hoping that with that size and fluidity, we can make up the remaining numbers that would require us to work with the RCMP through 2023.
Jennifer Hyland (18:51)
And by 2024, most of those RCMP members will be transferred out, and we'll just be continuing to add and build as a standalone organization.
Steve Morreale (19:00)
So we're talking to Deputy Chief Constable Jennifer Highland, and she is talking to us in Surrey, Canada, today. She is on the forefront of creating the new Surrey Police Service. And I'm very, very happy to talk to you because it's such a unique opportunity to talk about the steps that you would have to take. What about the facility? I mean, did you have one? Did you build one? What happened? Yeah.
Jennifer Hyland (19:21)
So what's interesting is that the RCMP don't own any of the facilities that they're in when they're in detachments. So all of the buildings that the police work out of are owned by the municipality. The municipality owns all the buildings. They own all the cars. They own all the equipment. And so the RCMP comes in on a contract that says the city has to buy all these things for them to come and police. So when the RCMP leaves, all those things stay. So the Surrey Police Service is just absorbing a room and space in the existing buildings. And as we grow, we'll start to take over more space, and the RCMP employees working in those spaces will start being transferred out, and we'll just absorb into the current state.
Steve Morreale (19:59)
It's like crime displacement when we're moving in. You're moving out. That's good. So let's talk a little bit about that. So it seems to me now of the number you have so far, are any on the street, or is it really? So tell me about that. And how do you share? That's got to be complicated. How are you sharing calls? You take it? No, you take it.
Jennifer Hyland (20:19)
Very, very complicated. So what happened was we have what's called a legal assignment agreement. So the RCMP and Surrey are currently considered the police a jurisdiction, which means they are responsible for providing the law enforcement.
Steve Morreale (20:33)
So they're primary right now.
Jennifer Hyland (20:35)
They're primary. So we assigned our lawyers all got together. There are multiple levels of lawyers.
Steve Morreale (20:40)
Jennifer Hyland (20:41)
They wrote up what was called an assignment agreement where our trained and qualified police officers would go in our uniform with our firearms and our equipment and everything, and we would go over into the RCMP, and we would work under their command, going to calls for service with their RC. So we have up to 17 members per watch. Right now. They go to calls for service, they respond. They might have an SPS member as a partner, or they might show up with an RCMP member. The other night, there was a house fire in the city of Surrey, and it was a fatal house fire. It was very sad. It was quite a large scene. But local global news took a photo of us outside, and it was six members, and it was an RCMP member, and then an SPS member. RCMP there's six members, and there was one of each of us standing in first on the line together. And basically what it is is just showing that we're doing a transition. That transition is phased. There'll be more of them and less of us. And then that barometer, the bar will start to switch like this.
Jennifer Hyland (21:40)
And then they'll slowly phase out and keep their jobs. No one's out of work. Every single RCMP member has a position in the RCMP. Yeah. And they're just going to be redeployed, and you'll see the number come up, and then ultimately it will just eventually be SPS. So the cadence of that is about 35, 25 to 35 operational officers go in every two months. So over the course of the year, every two months, we load 25 or 35 new ones, and we spend a six week conversion program. Everyone who comes to us, we put on a six week program that's all about our SPS culture, our training, our policy. We train you on all of our weapons, on all of our procedures, and then we'll deploy them back in. So we've hired quite a few members that have come from the RCMP detachment to switch over to FPS. Really, we convert them. We have quite a few current applications as well, which is great. These are our CMP officers who have made their homes in Surrey and their families in Surrey, and they ultimately just want to stay in Surrey. And if they want to do that, then they come to SPS.
Jennifer Hyland (22:38)
And if they don't, they stay with the RCMP and get transferred to some other locations.
Steve Morreale (22:42)
So let's talk about training as it's done in Canada and in BC. Where do people if you have a new officer, where are you sending them? How long is that? And then you're saying when they come back, even you're having a six-week training so that you understand culture expectations for the Surrey Police Department talk about the training there.
Jennifer Hyland (23:00)
Yeah. So brand new recruits go to the Justice Institute of BC so that's the BC policing training site, and all municipal agencies send their new recruits there.
Steve Morreale (23:10)
And there's a coach officer that they are placed with. Is that true? You call it a coach or a field training officer like we do?
Jennifer Hyland (23:15)
Yeah, like a field training officer.
Steve Morreale (23:17)
Jennifer Hyland (23:18)
They're with for about 20 weeks. So it can be up to four months. Four or five months that they can do once they're with that and they stay with that training officer the entire time. And then they go back and they finish off block three, which is and then they finally come out into what's called block four which they're done at their training center. They have to show an ability to work on their own now with some oversight and then they become a fully certified police officer after blocking to Jennifer Highland at the Deputy Chief Constable at Surrey Police Department.
Jennifer Hyland (23:46)
We're talking about training. It's interesting to me, Jennifer, because it's different than the way you do it up in BC is different than they do it down here in a lot of ways. Our academies are anywhere between 12, 14, 20 weeks and then you're out with a field training officer. You never go back to the Academy. I'm going over to Ireland and they do it very similarly to you. Let's train you, let's get you out there, get some experience, let's bring you back. And it seems to me that that opportunity to get some experience and come back is very valuable. What's your thought about that?
Jennifer Hyland (24:14)
Yeah, I think what it is is you can only teach so much in the confirmed sort of secure environment of the Academy. The RCMP do it. The way you're talking about it where they go to depot for six months and I believe they just for logistics. It's hard to bring people back to depot. It's one location across the country. So they do six months, send them out into the field, deal field training and they never go back into training. I think that you could talk about the efficiency and value in both. I do believe that officers, once they've had a taste of what it does look like when you've been taught something and how it applies going back in the cadets, the recruits themselves find it frustrating to go back. They've been out in the real world and they just want to be police officers. But I think the value of the training is it's given them a bit of a reality check on what they've heard. So the last few months of training they have a different lens on what it looks like because they've been exposed to some real policing in between. So I'm not sure I could say one is better than the other.
Jennifer Hyland (25:10)
They're just different. I think they have different values and that's just the way it's done in BC.
Steve Morreale (25:14)
How much do you think that your department with you being in a leadership position is going to rely on After Action Reviews, on allowing yourselves to learn from mistakes of others, to avoid it from happening. And then when you're trying to drive the new culture because I want to ask you about what your meetings are like in a moment, but talk about that because I think that's important to understand your perspective.
Jennifer Hyland (25:39)
Yeah, I'm really glad you mentioned that. I'm a real fan of the after-action review. In fact, we just did one a week ago. We had a critical incident. One of our police officers in deployment ended up being stabbed. And so we did an after-action review on how did we interact with the RCMP, how did we do as a standalone organization from Health and Safety and Wellness? What did the training look like? Was there a gap in the way we do business versus they do business? And so we call ourselves a learning organization. And that's interesting because we're brand new, but everything that we create every day. And you asked about the meetings. What's interesting is after a year in, it would be easier if I would just say, let's grab another organization's policy on this, change the date, change the name, and just assume it because it's less work. But we say this every day we come to work, that it is important that we do not squander the opportunity we've been given to be innovative, modern, and do it better and new. And people around us would love to scrap 150 years of history and bad policy and past poor leadership or whatever decision-making happen that resulted in a bad procedure and BS.
Jennifer Hyland (26:49)
And here we are. And everything we create is created from scratch and it is a ton of work, but it's important that we get it right. And what we love about our organization is because we're new and we do everything when we think something needs to be tweaked, even if we've only been at it for a few months, we make the change, we make the change and say, we've learned three months out, this didn't work out. Let's change it now before it becomes a long-term problem for us. It's a huge commitment to being open to it because it's fatiguing and you have to always stay motivated, even though sometimes it would be like, can't we just shove that one through and just be done with it? But we're a fan of after-actions. We do a lot of debriefs and we're really honest with ourselves. We thought that that was a really good idea and that didn't work out. Or somebody said, you guys never even considered that decision and how it impacted some of the membership. And so we really have been thoughtful and we don't take it personally because no one has done it before.
Jennifer Hyland (27:41)
Nobody handed us a playbook and said, this is how you do it. So we really given ourselves a break when we want to change something. It's not personal, it's just about being the best that we can be.
Steve Morreale (27:50)
For a moment, I'm not going to say you gave me shivers. But I have to say that when you were saying that it's exactly what I expected to hear from you, because if you're really true to advancing a culture, making improvements, taking past practices, improving upon them, and being at least aiming to be a leader and sharing that with others, you're in a very peculiar place, but a great place. I think that's amazing. You're a case study in the making, which is what really excited me to talk with you about that. Well, you really are, because what you just talked about with policy, it seems to me that so many and you've been around a long time, as I have, we already went through that policy. We're not going to do it again. That's it. The policy is the policy. And I think, oh, my God, what about unintended consequences? You're writing a policy that you can't live with, that you're putting people in peril, just modify it. That's all it takes. Sit back and use your brain to the best ability. So there's so many questions, and we're going to run out of time.
Steve Morreale (28:49)
I'll probably call you again to see where you're at next time. But let's talk about the meeting, because that, to me, is extremely important. You have a meeting. You've been in meetings, whether it's with the RCMP or any other place where they have a tendency to be top-down, they are very operational, and we're not really going to look for your input. And yet I suppose the people around the table, that's exactly the reason you hired them. Here's the thing, Jennifer, that drives me crazy. In policing, we hire the best people. We tell them they're the best people, and then we tell them to shut up and do their job. Stop laughing at me. But isn't that true in the past, right?
Jennifer Hyland (29:24)
100%, yes, 100%. And it's one of the reasons why I took this job is there are two philosophies that we kind of have as a leadership team, and I think we've drawn people who have a similar thought process. And one was that it takes courage and bravery to walk away and come into a startup police organization. And I don't actually even put myself in that category. I don't feel it took a lot of courage or bravery for me to do this. I've been in policing a long time. My husband was in policing. I could have stayed where I was and had an okay career. I wasn't upwardly mobile in the RCMP. And one of the reasons for that was because I did want to have a say in placing. And I like to speak up and say, I see a problem here. I think we're treating our people properly or there's a gap. And I was in an organization that didn't necessarily appreciate hearing that because they had so much on their plate. They just wanted to be efficient, effective. To your point, we've already talked about that policy. And it isn't necessarily from a bad place, but they just can't bring themselves to recreate or redo something when there's so many things on the go.
Jennifer Hyland (30:29)
So I don't put myself in the category of being brave. I am in the category of being creative. I have a lot of ideas. I had a lot of ideas, and I wanted to come here and have a say. But when we hired people, I was very clear, if you don't want to come here and build and have ideas and put in the legwork, then come in three or four years, because I require creative, innovative, brave people who I can say, I need you to build program X, go and do it, and then come back to me and I will sign off on it or make some tweaks. But we aren't in the business of our entire quarterbacking or we'd never be successful. So for those people who want that environment, this is the place to be. And they're coming from places where they had good ideas and they couldn't get a seat.
Steve Morreale (31:11)
They were thwarted.
Jennifer Hyland (31:12)
Steve Morreale (31:12)
Jennifer Hyland (31:13)
Great. And so we've given a whole series of people a seat at the table for the first time in their careers, and we are benefiting greatly sometimes the most amazing ideas have come from our three or four-year constables. They would have had to wait ten years to be able to speak up at a meeting. And our environment not only is providing for that opportunity, it requires. We require them to speak up and we tell them that you can't leave it. Yeah. I only have so many ideas for myself. I got to build too many things. I need you to come up with some of the ideas.
Steve Morreale (31:42)
Well, this is important in my mind because Michael Roberto, I had him on a little while ago. I think I'm going to release it pretty soon. But he's written a couple of books, and one of them is Unlocking Creativity, which is a book you might want to take a look at. But it seems to me, first of all, I'm excited about what I'm hearing is exactly why I kept chasing you to talk to, because it's so unique. And I wonder, though, so to me, you're setting the expectations when you're sitting at the table. I don't want you to sit there. I don't want you to be quiet. I want you to think about things, and I want you to participate. I'm enabling you. We're empowering you to be a part. In other words, we're giving you an ownership stake from the very newest person to the top person. That's what it sounds like. Your head is shaking like you're a dog in the back of a car. So talk about it. Talk about it.
Jennifer Hyland (32:29)
Yeah. I mean, at the end of the day, I think that we have hired people. They didn't show up and become a human being. The day we hired them. And one thing that I have always found frustrating in policing is this idea that you have to be in policing for ten years before you knew anything or five years before you spoke up at the briefing table. But we've hired people who came in in their late thirty s, and they were corporate managers of hundreds of people working at Home Depot managing conflict and customer service and it technology. And so just because they don't have ten years of policing experience doesn't mean they don't understand human beings and they haven't come in as a life where they're a father or a grandparent or a mother or a daughter or somebody who's living with mental health issues, and they've dealt with family members or loved ones that have had domestic violence issues. And so for us to suggest you have to be in policing for all these years before you have something valuable to say is us as leaders missing out on the best thing about hiring people?
Jennifer Hyland (33:29)
Because if I don't need people to weigh in, then we can just churn out widgets, put them through training, and we'll ask you what you think in ten years. But we're missing out on the best thing our people have to offer and what because we have the ego that we think that we know better. The best thing I can say is if you're going to do what we're doing, tell everybody to check their ego at the door, because just because you're senior and you have rank on your shoulders doesn't mean your idea is the best or that you know the best way to do it. And we have made a point of making sure that people's egos are not getting in the way, and that has been significantly helpful to us as an organization.
Steve Morreale (34:02)
So it sounds to me like you've come to the conclusion that you don't know what you don't know. And I know and when you're sitting at the table and you come up with an idea, you're throwing it to me, it's like planting seeds. As a boss, you're planting seeds. Unfortunately, not everything germinates, but also sometimes that seed takes a different turn. So I know that you've been frustrated. I've been frustrated in the past as a leader to say, my God, I raised the idea of what my interest was, and it took a completely different Uturn. But so what? Right. So what? It grew the initial seed into something that grew even it flowered more, if you will. I mean, really important. So there's a whole bunch of things to talk about. Talk about you as a woman in policing. Right. You've been in policing since the it hasn't always been an easy thing. And now you're at the head of the table. I understand you're not the number one, but you're at the head of the table and you're running a lot of meetings. How did you come through? I started in policing in the time we allowed women to be MPs, not we, the army.
Steve Morreale (34:58)
During my tenure, coming out matrons were all women were able to do. And then we brought in women, the father of three daughters. So I'm wondering what the struggles might have been and how you came to where you were and how you fight that from happening again at Surrey.
Jennifer Hyland (35:15)
Yeah, that's a really good question. I guess I don't really look back and see myself as a trailblazer. I mean, other people would probably disagree with me. I was certainly not the first woman in any organization that was in. There was lots of women before me. But it's interesting because I actually was very vocal about making sure the conversation isn't about changing the value or the equity of how you do things. It's understanding that the way things are done can be prejudiced towards females as a gender in placing. So it isn't that anybody needs to change the rules of the game, but there's a lack of understanding about how the rules apply and affect people. So, for example, I would say, I had a conversation a few years ago with my husband. He's an executive deputy chief in New Westminster, and they were trying to figure out four men. There were five men. So it was three male inspectors, a male deputy and a male chief. Why were there no women that had put in for their promotional process? So you have all these five men sitting around and he comes home and he asks me, what do you think I'm like, well, your first problem was this.
Jennifer Hyland (36:16)
Five men trying to figure it out. What the hell are you doing? Like, why would you think you would know why you guys spent an hour having this meeting?
Steve Morreale (36:24)
Are you telling me there's gender differences, Jennifer?
Jennifer Hyland (36:27)
And you don't have a single female in the room? So I started talking to him, what do you value when you promote? And he said, well, value the hard work. And I said, Describe that to me. And what they had promoted were people who could drop everything from their family. The guy that worked 20 hours straight, the guy that took every single call out that was reliable, that never went home. And I said, So how do you think your women are going to stack up against that when you show that that's what you value? You basically value people that are willing to put their family second. You value the guy that's willing to miss his child's birthday party. You value the guy that's willing to miss the games. So when women see that, they ask themselves, Do I want to take those steps to get promoted? Or do I want it as a mother, make sure that I get to some birthday parties and that I'm there in the morning or put my kids to bed? Women make different decisions often because the lions share. And I don't want to say that there's no such thing as single dads.
Jennifer Hyland (37:20)
There's some amazing men out there raising kids, but by and large, a lot of the responsibility when kids are sick and someone has to stay home, rest with the female. So if you as an organization, reward behaviors that are contrary to what women will do, they will just choose not to promote. And so what do I think I've done for the conversation is that I've been able to say to male leaders, it's not that you're bad people, but unless you start asking why women aren't and you ask them, you will continue to make policy decisions, always wondering why no one's in the queue. And so what I've done for male leadership at the provincial level is I've been able to highlight for them that their own corporate decision making and the things that they seem to value are what limits women wanting to do it because they don't see that their women qualities are valued in the organization. And so what do we know when women get promoted and women take on different roles is that we police better, the organization is healthier, we police better because there's a different perspective. Why? Because 51% of the population are female.
Jennifer Hyland (38:18)
So if you want to resolve issues in the community, you need to have some female police officers that can think their way through some of those issues and problems. Right. So I don't think I'm a spearheader so much as I am an advocate for male leaders to understand and think about how they're doing business differently.
Steve Morreale (38:35)
Okay. Jennifer Highland, as we wound you up on that, and I really am glad that I did. What are you doing at Surrey to make sure that that happens there? What are you doing at Surrey? So, Jennifer, just hearing what you were saying about the importance of women in policing, you might know in the United States, there has been a push called 30 by 30. I don't know if you're familiar with it. So by 2030, let's see if we can push for 30% women in policing. And I think that's a great aspiration. What are you doing to try to balance create some balance with Surrey Police Department for female officers?
Jennifer Hyland (39:09)
You know, one of the things I want to talk about is just sort of in policing, not just to focus on the female officer, but in policing in general. A lot of our civilian support staff are females, and they have traditionally been a real overlooked area in policing as well. Right. And so what we're doing here is we have what's called a women in leadership committee. I share it with one of my Superintendent, Alison Goode, who is obviously also a female in policing. And what that committee is about is bringing both of our civilian women and our policing women together.
Steve Morreale (39:40)
We were talking with Jennifer Hyland, and unfortunately, we lost connection, and I expect that I'll get back to her to finish our conversation. I will say that it was a wonderful opportunity to talk with the deputy chief Constable of Surrey police service where she and her team, and the Chief Constable, are working to create a Surrey Police Service for the first time in ages and they will be replacing the contract organization, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police over a period of years. So we appreciate her input and appreciate you listening and understanding that sometimes technical difficulties occur. This is Steve Morreale. You've been listening to the cup talk podcast and we'll be seeing you soon with other episodes. Thanks and have a good day.
Steve Morreale (40:24)
So a shout out to Kelly who reached out to me. She is a Sergeant in an Illinois police department indicated she'd been listening to the CopDoc Podcast and so many of the lessons and the opportunities of listening to leaders in the field helped her as she competed to become a Lieutenant and we're happy to say that she is soon to be a Lieutenant in this major police Department in the Midwest.
Steve Morreale (40:47)
So thanks for reaching out. We appreciate it and I am more than happy to chat with anyone in the world to keep the chatter alive about the police in this world. So feel free to reach out to me. It's important that we open a dialogue on the importance of policing and the efforts that we can take to improve the way we provide service to our community. Thanks very much.
Thanks for listening to The CopDoc Podcast with Dr. Steve Morreale. Steve is a retired law enforcement practitioner and manager turned academic and scholar from Worcester State University. Please tune into The CoDco Podcast for regular episodes of interviews with thought leaders in policing.