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Vancouver airport shooting victim was known target. Should police publicly identify high-risk gangsters?

Click to play video: 'Questions about Metro Vancouver police handling of gangland killings' Questions about Metro Vancouver police handling of gangland killings
The recent rash of gangland killings is raising questions about whether Metro Vancouver police are using the right tactics to combat the violence. Aaron McArthur reports – May 11, 2021

Questions are being raised about why police agencies around the Lower Mainland are not broadcasting the identities of known gangsters so the public can be aware and take caution.

During an ongoing turf war in 2017, Surrey RCMP put out names and photos of five people they said were a risk to public safety.

This included Karman Singh Grewal, the man shot and killed outside the Vancouver International Airport Sunday afternoon.

Click to play video: 'Tactics to crack down on gangsters' Tactics to crack down on gangsters
Tactics to crack down on gangsters – May 10, 2021

B.C. Solicitor General Mike Farnworth seemed to imply Monday that more resources to fight the spate of recent gang shootings could soon be coming.

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“I think we need to use all the tools that we have available to us to deal with the gang upsurge in violence that we’ve seen in the Lower Mainland and the police have a significant number of tools available to do that,” Farnworth said.

Police agencies and units from around the region are set to meet with Farnworth on Thursday.

Read more: Surrey shootings: RCMP warn public to steer clear of 5 gang targets

Gang experts believe the more the public is aware of who these people are in the community, the better chance police have to get the situation under control.

“The more the public is aware of who is doing what, the more sets of eyes you have out there in your community,” said retired Vancouver Const. Doug Spencer, who now runs Odd Squad, which aims to educate kids in schools about gangs and gang lifestyle.

“I support telling the public what’s going on, putting out pictures of the guys involved. Totally,” Spencer said. “It takes a village to make everybody safe.

“The key thing is they’ve got to stop treating these gangsters like they’re poor, misfit, misunderstood kids. They’re stone-cold killers. They should go to jail. If you took away and put in jail all these kids using firearms and (getting) caught with firearms, all of a sudden there would be complete quiet times.”

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Click to play video: 'What can be done to stop the Lower Mainland gang war' What can be done to stop the Lower Mainland gang war
What can be done to stop the Lower Mainland gang war – May 11, 2021

Read more: Man killed outside Vancouver airport is region’s 10th shooting in only 3 weeks

Spencer said he is concerned about escalation following Sunday’s airport shooting.

“Certainly payback,” he said. “They have to respond when one of their guys goes down. So they’ll be out looking for the other side for sure.”

“They don’t care a bit about who’s around.”

The key element in preventing these gang wars continues to be early education, he added. “Officers in schools, connecting to kids. Telling them the dangers of gang life and drugs and stuff.”

Odd Squad gets ex-gangsters to come talk to kids about the perils of gang life and encourages parents to watch what their children are doing and who they are hanging out with.

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“If you put a bag over your heads and don’t educate yourself about what’s going on, you’re going to end up at their funeral. I’ve seen that happen hundreds of times,” Spencer said.

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Charges have been laid in deadly Burnaby shooting – May 10, 2021

Read more: Innocent bystander struck by bullet during fatal shooting in Burnaby

On Monday, police agencies said there are a number of legal and privacy concerns about naming these gangsters publicly and they can’t use these tactics in anything but extreme cases.

Sunday’s shooting became the Lower Mainland’s 10th in only three weeks, with many of them fatal.

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story stated that police agencies were set to meet with Mike Farnworth on Tuesday. However, RCMP said they misspoke and they are actually meeting with Farnworth on Thursday.

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