With Surrey facing yet another wave of gun crime, the resources and size of the city’s police force are once again under the microscope.
Surrey RCMP has 823 officers but only 765 at the detachment right now with 58 on special assignment to integrated teams at the provincial and federal levels.
The number of officers on active duty also fluctuates with relation to members with extended illnesses or on parental leave.
“We have a substantial amount of police officers in Surrey and many who are dedicated specifically to targeting not only the gang violence but also the gang prevention aspect in many of our youth programs,” said Chief Supt. Dwayne McDonald, officer in charge of the Surrey RCMP.
Guns and gangs have been a long simmering issue for the City of Surrey.
Between 2015 and 2016, it added an additional 100 RCMP officers in a bid to get control of the gang problem.
McDonald also said when there are shootings the force often partners with other police agencies.
“Because we found that many of the criminals, many of the perpetrators, the suspects and intended victims are working across jurisdictions and so we need to work together, that’s what we do.”
Gang-related gun violence has spiked again this summer, coming to a head earlier this month with three shots fired incidents in a single day.
Police believe the incidents to be targeted and linked to the low level drug trade.
Speaking to media last week, Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner said the challenge officials were having in tackling the gang problem was not one of resources, but a matter of friends and family of gangsters maintaining a code of silence.
By comparison, Vancouver police have 1,327 sworn officers and a smaller land base to cover, but according to the latest census patrol, a population of about 150,000 more than Surrey.