In the wake of the recent gun violence in the city, encouraging kids to make positive life choices is the key to success.
That’s one of the goals of the Surrey RCMP’s Gang Enforcement Team (SGET). The team’s mandate is to reduce the risk to public safety resulting from the actions of organized or criminal gangs.
Over this past spring break, SGET members held a series of week-long activities with 35 Grade 6 and 7 students from a Surrey elementary school to help bridge the gap between law enforcement and the students and to open a dialogue about working hard and about giving back to the community.
Dressed in street clothes, the RCMP members engaged in a variety of sports and leisure activities. They even helped put on a hip-hop clinic with the support of school staff.
Although the kids were aware the SGET members were from the RCMP, they were surprised to learn they belonged to part of a team specifically targeting gangs and the gang lifestyle.
At the end of the week, the SGET members showed up dressed in their full uniforms with “Surrey Gang Unit” printed on their vests.
“The kids were totally floored,” said SGET Sgt. Michael Sanchez. “Many of them were surprised that we weren’t trying to preach to them and that you could have fun and talk to us without any negative implication.”
The SGET team is just one of the youth programs involving Surrey RCMP members and the Surrey School District. Others include the Wrap Program, Code Blue and the Youth Police Academy.
“In our experience, engaging with these kids as early as possible has a profound impact on them down the road,” said Supt. Shawn Gill. “We want to help youth make pro-social choices so they never get involved in criminal activity. It is much more difficult to remove them from that lifestyle once they start down that path.”