“Unfortunately, what we are experiencing now is an evolution, in that we are seeing street level criminals in what looks like interpersonal conflicts creating violence on our streets”
CHIEF Superintendent Ghalib Bhayani, Operations Officer for the Lower Mainland District RCMP, on Thursday told the media that “since April, the BC RCMP, municipal police partners and CFSEU-BC, which is leading the response, have developed a number of initiatives that have resulted in a slowing down of the gun violence on our streets in the latter months of 2021.”
Bhayani and Superintendent Duncan Pound, Deputy Operations Officer for the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of British Columbia (CFSEU-BC), held a special media conference to deal with public concern about a spate of shootings across the Lower Mainland recently that have left four bystanders injured in Langley, Coquitlam and Surrey.
Bhayani, noting that he was speaking “on behalf of the 13 RCMP detachments and the five Integrated Teams that deliver specialized and frontline policing to the two million residents who live here in the Lower Mainland,” said: “I want those victims and their families to know that we are thinking of them and wish them the best in their recoveries.”
He added: “The policing community is acutely aware that these acts of violence impact the public’s sense of safety and well-being. That is unacceptable.”
Bhayani said: “Since April, many detachments and municipal departments around the Lower Mainland introduced or expanded anti-gang enforcement teams focused on suppression efforts in their respective communities. These uniformed teams, continue suppression efforts through targeted enforcement, increased patrols and shared intelligence. The result is, we’ve been able to mitigate the number of violent acts down from what we were seeing last spring and summer. This is supported through the number of PTEP [Provincial Tactical Enforcement Priority] targets we’ve arrested.”
He added: “Unfortunately, what we are experiencing now is an evolution, in that we are seeing street level criminals in what looks like interpersonal conflicts creating violence on our streets.”
Bhayani said that a third of the homicide investigations by the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) have a nexus to organized crime and drug activity. Since IHIT’s inception in 2003, about 33 per cent of all homicide investigations have a nexus to organized crime.
He said: “We continue to support CFSEU-BC’s lead role in the coordination of gang-related intelligence through the Provincial Tactical Enforcement Priority initiative and through the Real Time Intelligence Centre (RTIC) which has improved upon its timely release of information to frontline police officers so that they have the most up-to-date information prior to responding to gun or gang violence calls.”
Bhayani added: “The BC RCMP and its detachments around the Lower Mainland will continue these suppression efforts and intelligence sharing and will look for ways to keep improving and supporting our law enforcement partners.”
POUND told the media: “While CFSEU-BC isn’t the investigative agency for the recent incidents, early indications are that in the three most recent shootings in Langley, Coquitlam and Surrey — where one person lost their life and innocent bystanders were injured — all initially appear connected to street-level drug trafficking. They do not, at this time, appear to have any direct links to the Lower Mainland Gang Conflict and do not appear to be connected to each other.”
He added: “That, however, doesn’t discount the seriousness of the incidents, as gun violence is completely unacceptable.”
Pound noted: “We also know that sometimes violence that occurs at the street level can escalate and draw in groups and individuals more entrenched and connected to conflicts like the Lower Mainland Gang Conflict. That is why it is important for us to let everyone know of our continued collaborative and coordinated efforts to ensure that violence doesn’t escalate and that we are able to prevent incidents before they happen.”
Pound had a message for those involved in any level of drug dealing or gang-related activity: “It does not have to be an inevitability for you to end up either in jail or dead. There is help available. Please reach out to our Gang Intervention and Exiting Team. Call them at 604-897-6023.”
Pound added: “I also want to encourage anyone with information on the recent shootings, or other violent crimes, to please call your local police or the investigating agency.”