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Crime

Surrey had 59 shots fired calls this year: now activist says it’s time to dump the RCMP

WATCH: Could new police force solve Surrey's crime problem? (April, 2016)

A Surrey community activist is calling for a change in the city’s policing model, after a year that saw gunfire break out dozens of times.

According to the Surrey RCMP, officers responded to 59 shots fired calls in 2017.

Police have characterized the firearms incidents as linked to a simmering street-level conflict among gangs in the drug trade.

Doug Elford with the Newton Community Association said he is frustrated with incidences of gunplay year after year, and it’s time for more radical solutions.

He said one change could be to end the city’s contract with the RCMP and create an independent municipal police force.

“I don’t think we get the same kind of service that the other communities that have their own municipal forces get,” Elford said.

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WATCH: One person dead in North Surrey shooting

One person dead in North Surrey shooting
One person dead in North Surrey shooting

Elford said he believes a Surrey Police Department would be able to attract more boots on the ground, and would also have a stronger community focus.

“A lot has to do with the fact that they are managed by their own municipal councils, their police boards,” he said.

“They have to have direction from the duly elected municipal politicians and they aren’t answering back to Ottawa or the high-ranking people in the RCMP.”

The idea of a Surrey municipal police force is not new; it was most recently floated amid another string of shots fired incidents last April.

Last year, the City of Richmond also considered moving to its own independent force, but after a review opted to remain with the RCMP.

As of August, the Surrey RCMP had 823 officers on the payroll, after adding 100 members between 2015 and 2016 to try and tackle the gang problem.

Earlier this summer, Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner said the problem with addressing gang violence hasn’t been police resources, but rather a code of silence among friends and family of gangsters.

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