Surrey Mayor’s Task Force on Gang Violence Prevention convened

Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner
Photo by Jay Sharma of Mahi Photo Studio

THE Surrey Mayor’s Task Force on Gang Violence Prevention held its first meeting at City Hall on Thursday. The Task Force was formed to review existing programs and initiatives that target gang-related violence and formulate new recommendations for enhancing or expanding existing programs and implementing new initiatives.

“Gang violence has long been a problem in Greater Vancouver and Surrey is no exception. I believe to be successful in combating this issue, enforcement and prevention are equally important,” said Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner.  “This Task Force has been convened to ensure that we continue to build on our successful anti-gang programs like WRAP, YoBro / YoGirl, and the Gang Exiting Program and assess what more we can do, in our City and in our region. By bringing together a diverse cross section of our community, I am confident that the Task Force will be integral in identifying programs and service gaps that will help our youth remain out of the downward spiral of gang life and its inherent dangers.”

Assistant Commissioner Dwayne McDonald, Surrey RCMP Officer in Charge said: “The Surrey RCMP’s long-term strategy in addressing the issue of youth gang involvement is to promote positive choices for kids and provide accessible support and guidance to parents. Police play an integral role here, but not the only role, and I am pleased to see so many groups represented on the Mayor’s Task Force. I look forward to working with this group to gain new perspectives and develop strategies to protect our youth and our city.”

“With our Public Safety Strategy we are committed to being collaborative and comprehensive in addressing our public safety challenges,” said Terry Waterhouse, the Director of Public Safety Strategies. “That is why I am pleased to have three exceptional young people who know the reality of gang life join us on the Task Force. Their insight will be invaluable in helping to prevent young people from getting involved in the gang life.”

The Task Force will meet a minimum of six times and will engage in the following tasks:

  • review existing gang violence prevention programs and services,
  • identify gaps, challenges and issues with existing programs and services, and
  • prepare a final report outlining actionable recommendations for combatting gang violence.

At this inaugural meeting, the Task Force confirmed its membership, terms of reference, project scope, timeline and deliverables. Brief presentations on current gang prevention programs were given by Assistant Commissioner Dwayne McDonald and Assistant Commissioner Kevin Hackett, Chief Officer of the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit (CFSEU).