SURREY — Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner says the hiring of 52 new RCMP officers in Surrey since Sept. 11 shows a “recognition of urgency” from the federal government that the city needs help to stop these drive-by shootings that have plagued the city since March.
After a quiet summer, there were three drive-by shootings in Surrey this past week, bringing the total number of shootings in Surrey and North Delta to 46 since the beginning of March. The latest shooting, on Tuesday night in Newton, left a 22-year-old man wounded and bullet holes in nearby Strawberry Hill elementary school.
Police say many of these shootings are related to a dial-a-dope turf war between gangs of South Asian and Somalian decent.
Hepner said she was “deeply frustrated” upon hearing about these three latest shootings. She noted that Surrey RCMP grew by 34 officers from a 2014 request and more than half — 52 of 100 officers requested from the federal government in May 2015 — are now here.
“I consider that a fairly quick response,” Hepner said. The 100 are supposed to arrive in Surrey within a year of the initial request. She expects to see the rest arrive over the next few months.
Many of Surrey’s new officers are already experienced, she said.
In June, the Surrey RCMP’s strength was 703 Mounties. With 52 more, that would now be 755, but the detachment won’t confirm that.
“Surrey RCMP are not in a position to speak about the exact number,” Cpl. Scotty Schumann said. “It changes daily. We will report when the 100 increase to establishment has been filled.”
Hepner said police are making some headway in investigating these drive-by shootings. Since April. she said, in Surrey police have done 5,600 person checks, 3,900 vehicle checks, made 726 arrests resulting in 275 charges, seized 116 weapons, $125,000 in cash and also seized 134 vehicles. “That is a lot of vehicles taken off the street.”
Hepner said that despite the progress being made, the difficulty lies in ensuring that criminal charges “stand up” in the courts.
Police have also complained about investigators being stymied by a lack of cooperation from shooting victims, and their families and friends. Hepner said “I just implore the family and friends” to help police with what they now.
“There’s not a good retirement plan in the gang lifestyle,” she said. “Early retirement for them (gangsters) is the grave.”