People don’t feel safe walking in Surrey due to crime: community activist

Ambulance crews are on scene following a transit police shooting in Surrey. Shane MacKichan

On the one year anniversary of the day Julie Paskall was found badly beaten outside the Newton arena and later died of her injuries, the new mayor of Surrey Linda Hepner spoke to the media after calls for her to address crime in the city continued to grow.

Saying that she could only speak to what she’s been able to do since taking over the reins of mayor three weeks ago, Hepner indicated there’s “a lot of work that’s gone on.”

Specifically, Hepner says, with their high-risk location initiative.

“Up to October of last year we’ve seen over 540 arrests,” the Surrey mayor says.

“We looked at 243 recovery houses and shut down 114 of them and have two dozen more in front of the courts.”

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But Hepner says those types of statistics don’t resonate with people and instead, it’s action at the community level that will show Surrey residents the city has been busy.

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“My job is to create the framework and the environment for a successful operation within our police force,” she says.

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“They’ve got a tough job to do and I’m committed to making sure they have the resources to do that job.”

Hepner says her first job as mayor was to introduce a budget to ensure funding for 100 police officers on the ground. Her overall commitment is 147 and Hepner says “we’re well on our way to seeing that happen.”

“That’s why I was so adamant that when we have these new officers that we create a neighbourhood policing model,” Hepner said.

“It’s that [type of initiative] within neighbourhoods that’s going to shift that message that we are doing a lot in the city and they’ll see this change.”

But for community activist Naida Robinson, she believes crime in Surrey is on the rise.

“People aren’t walking the streets like they were, there are a lot of seniors in the Newton area,” Robinson told Global News.

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“They tell me that they don’t feel safe walking the streets. There’s just a different feel in the Newton area… there are some new dynamics happening and those are the kinds of things we expect our city hall and RCMP to be looking into and evolving themselves.”

Robinson is hopeful that with Hepner assuming her new role that she will be passionate about tackling crime in Surrey.

“I am concerned that it’s not going to be a priority,” Robinson says.

“But I’m hoping — that’s why I’m speaking out and so many people are speaking out — that she understands and city hall and council understand it’s a priority for the citizens and that makes it a priority for them.”

The mayor says crime is a priority.

“What I’m hoping to achieve with that is that it creates a neighbourhood area policing model much more so than we’ve seen in this city before,” Hepner says.

“My second priority is dealing with some of the root causes of crime and that many of those are outside of the jurisdiction of local government entirely but not outside the jurisdiction of advocacy roles.”


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