SORRY, Surrey, but there’s really little the cops can do to end the crazy series of shootings – apparently by low-level drug dealers trying to intimidate or take out one another – that seem to have become a hallmark of B.C.’s second largest city in recent weeks in particular.
Besides the raft of shootings that had taken place in earlier weeks, there were three more just last week and this week – on Thursday, March 26 and Saturday, March 28 at night and on Wednesday, April 1 in broad daylight (and there may be more by the time you read this!)
And then there was the case of the male found with gunshot wounds on Friday, March 27 in the food court of Surrey City Centre Mall. Police suspect he was shot in another city and then took the SkyTrain to Surrey.
SO what’s happening?
Simon Fraser University’s well-known criminologist Dr. Robert Gordon told The VOICE on Monday (two days BEFORE the Wednesday shooting incident): “Quite clearly the Surrey RCMP and the associated RCMP gang units are not really having a great deal of success in controlling this activity and I am sure this is a great disappointment to the police officers that are involved and I am sure it’s a great disappointment to the Mayor of Surrey but the fact of the matter is that they are just not dealing with the crime issue in Surrey as a regional problem – they are dealing with it on a parochial basis and so long as they do that – we don’t have unity among police services across Metro – this sort of stuff will continue.”
In other words, as The VOICE has been pointing out for many years now, quoting experts such as Gordon and former solicitor general Kash Heed, unless we have a unified Metro Vancouver police force from West Vancouver to Abbotsford, it will be impossible to deal effectively with such incidents. So-called integrated task forces are no substitute for a SINGLE police force like the one they have in Toronto.
And as The VOICE has reported in the past the much touted increase in RCMP officers that we have been promised is NOT going to have any real impact for the obvious reason that they have no experience.
Gordon bluntly noted yet again: “It wouldn’t make a blind bit of difference. The problem with the incoming police officers is that they are all fresh out of the Academy. They will not have the street smarts.”
He added that there was no pool of police officers experienced in dealing with gangs who can be moved into Surrey from elsewhere.
Gordon added: “But that still doesn’t get around the problem which is the lack of a coherent regional approach to policing, not just gangs generally, but to policing as a whole. Obviously the provincial government and the electorate in Metro Vancouver are not concerned about that otherwise that would change. Politicians are not providing leadership.”
He said all that politicians were doing was “attaching band aids, on the one hand, and shifting deck chairs around the Titanic, on the other. … So it’s not going to change at all, unfortunately.”
In fact, he thinks that a shift in crime related to the illegal drug trade is more likely to occur as a result of larger policy changes at the federal level than anything being done by way of local initiatives. “It’s more likely the situation will change dramatically once there’s a more coherent approach taken to drug policy in this country and particularly in this part of the country,” added Gordon
Gordon said: “It won’t happen under the current [Conservative] regime because they don’t want to [change], but I think Trudeau or the NDP, or the Liberals and the NDP in some form of coalition might well move ahead on that front.”
He also pointed out that everybody is really waiting to see what happens in the U.S. now that an increasing number of states are introducing changes going to drug policy.
ON Wednesday (April 1) at about 11:40 a.m., Surrey RCMP received several reports of shots being fired from a vehicle near the intersection of 128th Street and 64th Avenue.
Witnesses reported observing a male passenger firing from a silver vehicle towards an occupied black Honda. Both vehicles were reportedly going southbound at the time and fled from the scene.
A description of the suspect vehicles was immediately broadcasted throughout Lower Mainland and officers searched for the vehicles and individuals involved. Police didn’t know if there were any injuries to any of the passengers in the two vehicles.
Officers spoke to witnesses and recovered physical evidence. The investigation, led by Surrey RCMP Serious Crime Unit, continues.
LAST Saturday night (March 28), Surrey RCMP arrested five South Asians from a house in the 9300-block of 125th Street after a reported exchange of gunfire, but nobody has yet been charged with any offence.
Surrey RCMP said that shots were fired by occupants of two vehicles in the 9500-block of 125th Street. The vehicles were spotted leaving the area and police located one parked not too far from the crime scene. Police took five males into custody from the house where it was parked.
Police are still investigating.
NDP MLA Sue Hammell (Surrey-Green Timbers) in a statement on Wednesday said: “I am very disturbed by the rising violence on the streets of Surrey, and gun crime in particular. Including an incident this morning, gunfire has broken out in Surrey 12 times in just the last month.
“It is not acceptable for people to feel unsafe in their own community. We absolutely need more front-line police officers.
“I have also spoken with parents worried that young people in their families are getting mixed up with drugs and criminal activity. We need to make sure parents can access the help they need to keep their young people on the right path.
“My New Democrat colleagues and I have worked with community leaders to develop the Surrey Accord, a plan to tackle crime that is widely supported by residents. We cannot ask police officers to be the solution to every problem. We know that poverty, addiction, homelessness and untreated mental illness are key drivers of crime and these must be addressed alongside badly needed action against this unacceptable level of violence.”