Community forum emphasizes need to end drug turf war

NEWTON – "It needs to stop." Those words, uttered by Mayor Linda Hepner, reflected the public’s consensus at Tuesday’s community forum on crime.

 

Hundreds packed the gym at Tamanawis Secondary to hear what the City of Surrey, school district and Surrey RCMP will be doing to address the latest rash of gunfire: 23 shootings (three in Delta) in six weeks. Most, if not all of the shootings, are believed to be related to a street-level drug turf war between two groups – one of South Asian descent, the other Somalian – though police have been careful not to call it a gang war.

 

"I want you to have confidence that we’re on it, we get it and you can be rest assured that we’re going to do everything we can with all the resources we have available to us," said Chief Supt. Kevin Hackett, the chief officer of the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit (CFSEU-BC).

 

The QA panel also included Surrey RCMP Chief Supt. Bill Fordy, Surrey Schools CEO and Superintendent Dr. Jordan Tinney, and Staff Sgt. Paul Dadwal, who is team commander of the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT).

 

Concerns from residents included violence at schools, parental accountability, the social stigma around snitching and distrust of law enforcement by immigrants who have had negative experiences with corrupt police forces in their home countries.

 

Arguably, the most noteworthy statement came from Jesse Sahota, a Tamanawis grad who went from being a juvenile delinquent to now mentoring troubled teenagers through the school district’s Safe Schools program. He referenced the photos of the shooting victims and intended victims released by the RCMP, and described how some youth misconstrued their mugshots as glorification of violence.

 

"I was shocked when a handful of students came up to me and said, ‘Hey, you see this guy? That’s my cousin. I can call him anytime,’" he said. "That’s not why those pictures were released. We don’t want to give a sense of notoriety to these criminals."

 

One young man who attended high school with many of the victims said he wasn’t surprised to see them on the wrong side of the law. He challenged other students who know people involved in the shootings to write down the dedicated tip line and call in any information, even if they think they would be ratting out a friend.

 

"The dial-a-dope guy that was around in my neighbourhood, they found him with a bullet in his head and his car burned," he said. "Don’t think of it as snitching. Think of it as saving someone’s life."

 

While Fordy and Hackett fielded numerous questions, Hepner remained quiet until one man criticized Surrey city council for not being more active in the community.

 

The mayor highlighted the addition of 34 officers to the Surrey RCMP, with another 100 recently approved by Justice Minister Suzanne Anton. Hepner also noted her duties as mayor don’t leave her a lot of time to be visible in the community.

 

Surrey councillors Tom Gill, Bruce Hayne, Vera LeFranc, Mary Martin, Mike Starchuk and Dave Woods were also in attendance, as well as B.C. NDP leader John Horgan and MLAs Sue Hammell, Marvin Hunt, Amrik Virk. Surrey-Newton NDP MLA Harry Bains, whose 22-year-old nephew, Arun Paul Singh Bains, was killed in the latest shooting, did not attend the forum.

 

Anyone with information about the any of the shootings is asked to call the tip line at 604-915-6566 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).

 

More online

 

For a timeline of the shootings and an interactive map showing the locations in Surrey and Delta, visit us online at Thenownewspaper.com.

Just Posted

South Surrey mother ‘never called 911’ after killing daughter, court hears

Crown submits evidence shows Lisa Batstone wanted eight-year-old Teagan to die

Judge annuls hairdresser’s forced marriage to boss’ relative

Woman was told she’d be fired if she didn’t marry boss’s Indian relative so he could immigrate here

Feds earmark $7.5 million to help keep Surrey teens out of gangs

It’s expected as many as 4,730 teenagers in Surrey will benefit from it

A look inside Brendan McLeod’s ‘Brain,’ in Surrey on tour

INTERVIEW: Toronto-based artist at Centre Stage with words and music

Louder helicopter partly to blame for rash of complaints in Surrey: RCMP

Police say helicopter training is conducted in Cloverdale because it’s ‘a very practical area where we do a lot of real police work’

VIDEO: Here’s what the B.C. legislature officers are accused of buying

Personal trips, purchases, alcohol and more laid out in 76-page report by Plecas

Why would the B.C. legislature need a firewood splitter?

First sign of police involvement in investigation of top managers

New Canada Food Guide nixes portion sizes, promotes plant-based proteins

Guide no longer lists milk and dairy products as a distinct food group

Video: Runaway Coquihalla dog returned to owner

Archer, the dog found roaming along Coq. Hwy. on Jan. 19, has been reunited with owner

Liberals look to make home-buying more affordable for millennials: Morneau

Housing is expected to be a prominent campaign issue ahead of October’s federal election

Abbotsford woman speaks out after she fainted and bystanders ignored her

Meghan Canavan says bystanders walked by with no offer of help after she fainted recently

Cannabis-carrying border crossers could be hit with fines under coming system

Penalties are slated to be in place some time next year

Most Read