A longtime member of the Surrey RCMP says he feels residents’ frustration and fear over the rise of violent crime in the city.
Insp. Dale Carr spoke at length about his and the department’s struggles to respond to the recent crime wave at the scene of the latest targeted shooting in Surrey’s Fraser Heights neighbourhood, which killed a man in his 20s Friday evening.
“Certainly for the citizens of Surrey, it can be frustrating, I can only imagine,” Carr told Global News.
WATCH: Insp. Dale Carr’s full comments about the violent crime in Surrey
“I can tell you that it was expressed to me by several of the officers on scene here how frustrated they are by this, because it’s just another Surrey violent crime, and it makes it look like we’re doing nothing when we’re doing everything we can.”
The fatal shooting came on the same day Surrey RCMP released new numbers that confirmed a “significant increase” in violent crime in the first quarter of this year.
According to the report, there was a 43 per cent increase in violent crime overall, with notable increases in robberies, sexual offences and assaults. Nine reports of shots fired have been investigated so far this year.
Based on public statements released by RCMP and homicide investigators, five of those shootings have been fatal, including Friday night’s homicide. A total of eight homicides have been confirmed since January.
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Public statements were only released by police for seven of the nine shots fired incidents reported in Friday’s crime statistics.
Carr said he and his lead officers have been regularly looking at those statistics to get a better understanding of where to deploy resources, but admitted it’s impossible to prevent crime in every part of the city.
“Quite frankly, short of having someone on every corner, it’s pretty difficult for any police department in this country or in North America to identify where someone’s going to go … and commit a horrific act such as a homicide,” he said. “It’s just impossible to identify.”
Karen Reid Sidhu, executive director of the Surrey Crime Prevention Society, said police can only do what they can to address what she calls a systemic crime problem that’s impacted by the judicial system, politicians and education.
“The finger pointing to the police agencies — it’s not police,” she said Friday night. “They are a small piece to the puzzle here, and we really need to address that.”
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Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum has pointed to the city’s high crime rate as a reason to switch the city’s policing from RCMP to a municipal force, but Sidhu said she’s not convinced it will make a difference.
“I think we need to look at the numbers comparing municipalities that have RCMP or civic police,” she said. “Abbotsford has a municipal police department, and they have a lot of serious crime there as well. So until I see those numbers … I don’t think we can make that judgement.”
Sidhu said more youth programs are desperately needed to keep people from falling into a life of crime and stop the cycle of violence.
Carr said reporting crimes as they happen to police is the most important thing residents can do to help officers combat the problem.
“We may not be able to do anything about that instance, but what it does is it gives us crime stats, and then we start to see there’s a particular area that’s a problem and we’ll redirect our resources,” he said.
— With files from Jordan Armstrong, Janet Brown and Kristen Robinson