The Surrey RCMP says its “Shattering the Image” program is tailor-made for the city and, as the name suggests, shatters the “glamourized image” of gangs.
Corporal Scotty Schumann says the new presentation talks about gangs and dial-a-doping, and is specifically aimed at students in Grades 6 and 7. He says it’s “hitting home with students, parents, educators and newcomers.”
Launched last fall, the program is adapted from the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit’s “popular” End Gang Life program “and shares the true story of gang life in Surrey and its consequences,” Schumann adds.
Sergeant Mike Sanchez, of the Surrey Gang Enforcement Team, says police had to adjust how they were approaching gang prevention in this city given the current “drug and gang climate in the Lower Mainland and kids being recruited at younger ages.
“We found that when we share stories of kids who have gotten caught up in dial-a-doping right here in Surrey, it really hits home with the youth.”
The presentation takes a look at the history of gangs and drug trafficking in Surrey, as well as current trends.
A separate version for adults includes tips on recognizing the signs of drug-dealing as well as information on fentanyl and its victims.
“We know that kids are getting information about gangs from a variety of sources including social media,” Sanchez notes. “Our job is to give kids the facts so they are equipped to make better choices.”
Two to four presentations are done each week, with requests coming from the Surrey School District, Justice Education Society and various community groups.
Rob Rai, of Surrey Safe Schools, says there’s “definitely a need” for programs like this, which encourage “safe, open discussions” with elementary school students before they advance to secondary school.
“Building these connections early and often has a real impact on students and can start to turn the tide and prevent the next generation from entering this lifestyle altogether,” Rai said. “The Surrey RCMP is shedding light on the realities of drugs and gangs and instilling confidence in our students to make positive life choices.”