Thursday, April 14, 2016

Surrey well on track for crime capital of Canada

Surrey recorded its 32nd shooting in a year that’s not yet four months old. Last year, Surrey had the country’s third-worst crime problem (behind Grande Prairie and Red Deer) with 56 recorded shootings.

This year, it is on pace to hit 100. “Maybe bullets fell from the sky,” one of those involved in last year’s war told police. “Don’t you worry about it,” another victim told police. “No need for you cops to be here." So far, nine people have been wounded in the shootings and one person has been killed. Nine buildings have been struck by errant gunfire.
A round of high-level hand-wringing over last year’s violence caused an additional 100 Mounties to be dispatched to Surrey’s RCMP contingent. It was Surrey taxpayers ultimately footing the bill for the troop increase, and it’s no panacea. The pace of shootings has only increased since the new recruits landed.

The problem is green recruits fresh out of the RCMP training academy are nearly useless on the street. Bob Paulson, the RCMP commissioner, announced that 500 senior Mounties working on organized-crime investigations across the country had been shifted to national security and terrorism. That reshuffling put major investigations targeting the highest echelons of organized crime on hold.
Experts say the violence stems from conflicts between groups trying to gain greater control over the drug trade. It’s market share and is retaliation-driven. In the 1980s a wave of new immigrants arrived from Honduras and El Salvador; they arrived at the same time as a group from Fiji, sparking conflict.

By the early ’90s, new arrivals from Vietnam muscled in. The latest conflict came after arrival of Somalis. They appear to have moved in on existing drug networks. South Asian gangs, not wanting anyone to muscle in, are pushing back.
Last week the Surrey RCMP dropped the news that as of April 1, there had been 28 shootings in the first three months of 2016. Until then, the public had only been made aware of 16. To help police, the Surrey RCMP detachment has been given real-time access to the city’s 330 traffic cameras. The mayor is also upping the number of cameras by 75.

Surrey is already home to Canada’s largest RCMP detachment. As the city is quickly learning, the violence will not be cured by more police alone.