After four shootings in four days, many Surrey residents say they no longer feel safe.
The number of shootings in Surrey — 32 so far this year — has many wondering whether it’s time for Surrey to cut ties with the RCMP and form its own municipal police force.
Gun violence in Surrey is not letting up despite the addition of nearly 100 RCMP officers.
Days earlier, Surrey RCMP revealed the majority of shootings in 2016 are being caused by new players in a drug war.
Speaking with the media on Tuesday, RCMP said they are tackling the problem but it isn’t the only issue they’re dealing with.
“The gun violence is a priority for us. What is also a priority is auto theft, it’s break-and-enters, it’s commercial B&Es,” Supt. Sharnjit Gill said.
‘It’s time for someone to show some leadership’: Kash Heed on Surrey gun violenc
Former West Vancouver Police Department chief constable Kash Heed questioned Gill’s response.
“I think it was a very poor choice of words by that superintendent and hopefully he realizes that,” he said.
Heed said there are no guarantees a municipal or regional police force will curb violence, but it does offer some advantages.
“You may get more of a focused response to this particular problem where you have the entire organization focusing mainly on suppressing that particular issue,” he said.
A focus on local priorities is just one of the reasons the City of Richmond is considering getting its own police force.
SFU criminology professor Curt Griffiths said Surrey needs to make a serious investment in policing.
“They’re going to need four or five hundred more officers,” he said.
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan expressed his concerns over gun violence in Surrey.
“I understand wholeheartedly the concerns that Surrey residents have about their safety, especially given the acts of violence that have taken place this year. I have had many discussions with my colleague, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, and with Surrey residents, about this specific issue,” Sajjan said in a statement.
“The RCMP in Surrey have a number of ongoing investigations, and are actively working to ensure they have a full and accurate picture of the situation on the ground,” the statement went on to say. “[One hundred] additional RCMP positions have been committed to community safety in Surrey, and I look forward to the positive impact that they will have on the community.”
For Surrey residents, an increase in the number of officers or a solution to the gun violence simply can’t come soon enough.
– With files from Nadia Stewart