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Metro Vancouver gang violence raises questions about police effectiveness, accountability

Click to play video: 'Questions about Metro Vancouver police handling of gangland killings' Questions about Metro Vancouver police handling of gangland killings
WATCH: 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

A brazen daytime shooting at Vancouver International Airport on Sunday afternoon was followed by a high-speed chase through the streets of Richmond and the discovery of a burned-out car in Surrey.

Gangsters don’t care where they commit crimes, crossing two, three, or sometimes more police jurisdictions in the process.

Former B.C. solicitor general Kash Heed says Metro Vancouver’s patchwork of badges means no one is accountable for mistakes.

Click to play video: 'Metro Vancouver gangland violence escalates to dangerous new levels' Metro Vancouver gangland violence escalates to dangerous new levels
Metro Vancouver gangland violence escalates to dangerous new levels – May 10, 2021

“I listed five police leaders that got up and talked about these incidents,” he said of recent briefings held by police. “Not one of them could I look to and say the public can hold that person accountable.”

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Metro Vancouver is the only large urban area in the country without a unified police force as the region is divided up between municipal forces and the RCMP. There have been calls for an amalgamation on and off for decades.

Click to play video: 'One dead in a gang-related shooting at YVR' One dead in a gang-related shooting at YVR
One dead in a gang-related shooting at YVR – May 10, 2021

During past outbreaks of gang violence, there were complaints about a lack of coordination and communication.

Police say things have improved dramatically since then, and the forces are now heavily integrated.

“In this case when we see a surge in gang violence across municipalities, we have an opportunity to further unite,” RCMP Asst. Commissioner Dwayne McDonald.

“So we conduct joint forces operations, we currently are coordinating the individual uniformed gang units of each municipality.”

Click to play video: 'What may be fueling escalating gang war in Metro Vancouver' What may be fueling escalating gang war in Metro Vancouver
What may be fueling escalating gang war in Metro Vancouver – May 12, 2021

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

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Despite those efforts, the suspects in Sunday’s shooting managed to drive 28 km from YVR and burn their getaway car in Surrey, all before effective roadblocks could be set up.

Mike Farnworth, B.C.’s current solicitor, believes police have the funding they need.

“They work very closely together,” he said. “There is an extraordinary level of cooperation, whether it’s RCMP forces or municipal forces. And we know that they are working as hard as they can.”

Despite the perceived advantages, the momentum and timing to establish a regional police force have long since passed.

“We still have this traditional law enforcement structure that I strongly believe is part of the problem, why we’re not getting in front of this violent behaviour,” Heed said.

“The fact that we’ve got these 30 Balkanized police agencies spread out just in the Metro Vancouver area, and you try and hold someone accountable for it, it’s very troubling.”

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