Surrey’s mayor is “furious” with the growing incidents of violence playing out on city streets.
Mayor Linda Hepner spent Monday afternoon being briefed by RCMP Officer in Charge Bill Fordy, after Surrey saw its 31st shooting of the year.
“(I’m) furious that a group of young punks can hold a city hostage when there’s so much good work being done here,” Hepner told The Leader Tuesday. “It makes me so angry I can’t speak.”
Addressing the shooters directly, Hepner said Surrey is not the place to safely conduct their business.
“Whatever it is you think you’re doing, there is no fairytale ending to this. This is going to end with prison or a toe tag,” Hepner said. “Get your butt home, do the hard work it takes to be successful and get the hell out of my city.”
Hepner said the RCMP investigation is forging ahead quickly, and may bear fruit soon.
“They intend to show results in the next few weeks,” Hepner said. She’s been informed of specifics, but said she can’t elaborate out of respect for the police probe. “I’m confident with where the investigation is headed.”
The mayor said the Mounties and Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit conducted an extremely successful campaign last year, making 800 arrests and effectively shutting down the dial-a-dope operation that resulted in gunplay on Surrey streets.
“We have now created a vacuum, and what we’re seeing now, is a new group of individuals trying to fill that void,” Hepner said.
She said there are some differences to the shooting investigations this year. Chief among them is a community willing to participate in reporting the crimes.
Police have long said parents, families and friends need to play a role in helping RCMP keep the dealers off the streets.
When they do, police say, it keeps their loved ones from getting killed.
More is required, Hepner said, but headway is being made and families are stepping up.
She also said the province is suggesting it may make it easier to charge those who’ve been arrested. Minister of Public Safety Mike Morris is looking at easing the charge approval process when gunplay is involved, she said.
“That was good news,” Hepner said.
She noted Surrey is also tackling the issue through education and community outreach.
“It’s a complex problem, and we have to attack it from every angle,” Hepner said. “And I, quite frankly, believe we are.”
She stated during the 2014 election campaign that Surrey is a safe city, and she’s sticking to her stance.
“Any time there’s gunplay in this city, it’s unacceptable,” she said. “But this is very targeted – the fact is, it’s still a safe city.”
Hepner has been criticized for not coming out earlier this week to address the issue publicly.
“Everybody’s hammering, where’s the mayor… ?” Hepner said. “I know what’s going on, on the street, from my police chief. I know that they have an aggressive investigation.”
She says she’s confident that the police have all the resources they need and that the province is working to making their jobs easier.
“Where I’m less confident is whether they (criminals) will get the punishment they deserve, which is, in my mind, prison,” Hepner said.