Mayor, public safety minister address Surrey gun violence
As Surrey law enforcement officials struggle to contain a wave of gun violence sweeping the city, the mayor says 75 additional traffic cameras will be installed to give real-time access to police.
Mayor Linda Hepner says she is deeply concerned and offended by the gun violence that has been plaguing Surrey.
“What is really disheartening for me is these individuals are smearing our community and out city,” said Hepner.
Many questions have been raised about what’s being done to make city streets safer after 32 shootings this year alone.
Hepner says the resources currently deployed are “significant and substantial,” and the solution lies in coordination involving the local RCMP, the provincial teams and specialized units.
“I have given authority to the RCMP to have 24-hour direct access to the city’s network of 330 traffic cameras in their efforts to gather evidence against those involved in these incidents,” said Hepner, adding she approved additional 75 cameras to be installed around the city.
Hepner’s comments were echoed by Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Morris, who said the violence is causing a lot of fear among residents in Surrey.
“This isn’t just a police problem, this is a community problem,” said Morris. “It’s up to the public to provide police with information. Don’t stand by if you know there is something going on out there. You have the duty as a citizen to step forward and help the community overcome the problems it’s going through right now.”
The violence has many wondering whether it’s time for Surrey to cut ties with the RCMP and form its own municipal police force.
The city of Surrey has also recently said it’s exploring various crime fighting tools, including gunshot detection technology and the creation of a closed circuit television (CCTV) network.
The gun violence in Surrey is not letting up despite the promise from the federal government to put an additional 100 RCMP officers on the streets of Surrey last year. The RCMP say the majority of shootings so far this year are being caused by new players in a drug war.
Former B.C. solicitor general Kash Heed says there needs to be more involvement from the provincial government.
“We need to get everyone together on this,” says Heed. “We don’t have everyone in the same room sitting down with people who are going to make a difference and saying this is what we need to deal with the immediate situation in Surrey.”
Heed says no one wants to take responsibility or lead on the issue.
“They just want to point the finger at someone else,” he says.
-With files from Amy Judd and Jon Azpiri