SURREY â€” Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts is promising a â€œrelentlessâ€ effort to reduce crime within the city’s limits.
â€œWe will not stop until the job is done,â€ she said, repeating the phrase twice to drive the point home.
â€œWe will be relentless and we will not stop, and we will be sending the message, as we have always been, that criminals are not welcome here.â€
Watts held a press conference, with Surrey RCMP Chief Supt. Bill Fordy, at city hall Friday to provide an update on a task force she struck last Nov. 18 in response to Surrey setting a new record number of homicide victims.
â€œI want to assure the people of Surrey that continuing to confront and disrupt criminal behavior is my number one priority,â€ Watts told reporters. â€œI will continue to reach out and work with anyone in the community who shares this goal. We will take any idea that will work, no matter where it comes from.â€
Watts rolled out a carpet of new crime-fighting initiatives that includes the development of a new data bank, shared by city hall bylaws, the police and fire department to tackle high-risk areas â€œbefore they become a significant problem.â€ The city will also set up cctv surveillance cameras on major arterial roads, entering and exiting city. â€œWe will incorporate the automated licence plate readers that will identify, in real time, stolen vehicles or vehicles used for criminal activity,â€ Watts said.
Moreover, over the next two years 24 more Mounties will be hired and a 20-member community safety foot patrol will be dedicated to the district police stations. A six-cop bike squad will also be set up, with training to begin Monday, and Watts said sheâ€™s also working with the provincial government to have a Crown prosecutor dedicated to dealing with chronic offenders.
Asked how much all this will cost, Watts said the city is realigning its resources to find $300,000 within this yearâ€™s existing budget. Asked from where exactly the cash will come, she replied, â€œWeâ€™ll have our general manager of finance, and all the other departments, as well as our city manager, do that assessment.â€
Taxes will not be raised, she said. Asked how much the program will cost beyond this year, Watts anticipates $600,000 â€œgoing into next year.â€
â€œNext year weâ€™ll address that within the context of the budget process.â€
She is also planning to meet with the federal minister of public safety later this month. â€œI always hope to get cash out of it,â€ she said.
Meanwhile, there will be a meeting next month to flesh out a plan for a community court here in Surrey.
Since Wattsâ€™s task force on homicides was struck last November, its â€œhigh risk location initiativeâ€ has seen 175 arrests, 53 criminal charges recommended, more than 340 â€œhigh riskâ€ locations investigated and inspected, 15 search warrants executed, eight problem residences demolished or awaiting demolition, 144 unregulated recovery homes inspected, over $90,000 and 14 vehicles seized as crime-related property, and 122 street checks.
â€œWe are targeting locations that mirror those where homicides have happened in the past,â€ said Fordy, officer in charge of the Surrey RCMP. â€œIt is generally these types of locations where those living high-risk lifestyles come together and create an increased risk to public safety and potentially violent crime.â€