The Delta Police Department’s recently-launched violence suppression team (VST) arrested or detained 75 people in its first four weeks, resulting in a dozen criminal charges.
In a report to the Delta Police Board June 23, DPD Chief Neil Dubord provided an update on the team’s efforts from May 19 to June 15. Over those four weeks, officers proactively “self-initiated” 66 files and assisted DPD patrol units or outside agencies 19 times, while also making 22 weapon or drug seizures.
The VST is also responsible for implementing the DPD’s Inadmissible Patron Program. The IPP is a public safety partnership between Delta-area businesses, public facilities and the DPD with the goal of deterring individuals known to be associated with or involved in serious and/or violent criminal activities from entering or remaining in participating establishments, according to the DPD’s website.
The report sates the team performs several IPP-related premise checks every shift, primarily in North Delta, and in those first four weeks stopped 11 people in the parking lots of local businesses.
The DPD launched the violence suppression team on May 15 in response to the string of fatal shootings in the region, including the May 1 killing of 29-year-old corrections officer Bikramdeep Randhawa in the parking lot of North Delta’s Scottsdale Centre mall.
The VST’s focus is on intercepting any potential gang or related activity and acting as a deterrent through a high-profile presence in public spaces, such as along Scott Road and at popular restaurants. The team also regularly checks on individuals who must abide by curfews and release conditions, and have stepped up visits to locations where gang members are known to frequent.
The VST is managed by Sgt. Jim Ingram, officer in charge of the public safety operations at the DPD, who shares updates about the team’s work on Instagram (@cst_jingram).
The team also uses the department’s Traffic Safety Dog Unit as “an essential part of its interdiction and high visibility strategy,” Dubord said in his report.
“The DPD are proud of [the VST’s] nimbleness and ability to adapt to emerging community concerns,” Dubord wrote.
“VST has been working with and sharing information with all Lower Mainland and provincial uniformed gang enforcement and suppression teams. The team has taken on a challenging task and made tremendous progress in establishing their presence in areas know to be frequented by gang members and associates.”
Dubord added that an additional benefit of having the VST is the sharing of information and intelligence with officers in the DPD’s patrol section.
On May 12, the DPD announced that members of the violence suppression team have begun to use Axon body-worn cameras as a tool to help increase officer safety.
According to the device’s manufacturer, Axon, the board’s decision marks the first time that a front-line patrol police team in B.C. will be using body-worn cameras on a regular basis.
This team is also equipped with an automatic licence plate reader, allowing officers to “hone in on individuals with a history of police contact,” according to a post on the department’s Facebook page.