Surrey’s mayor, police unveil latest plan to fight city shootings

Surrey has given the RCMP 24-hour "real-time access" to all the city's 330 traffic cameras - and ordered 75 new cameras to help police.

Police on scene at a shooting near Bear Creek Park on Monday.

Police on scene at a shooting near Bear Creek Park on Monday.

SURREY —  Surrey’s Mayor Linda Hepner has given the RCMP 24-hour “real-time access” to all of the city’s 330 traffic cameras and has also ordered 75 new cameras to help police investigate the steady stream of street shootings here in Surrey, which number 31 so far this year.

Before police had access to the cameras, but not around the clock. They are typically used for traffic management.

“More than 100 are in Newton alone,” she said.

Hepner said she’s “deeply concerned and offended” by the violence and has “utmost confidence” in police that the shooters will be arrested.

“The perpetrators will be caught,” she said.

Hepner spoke at a press conference in Surrey Friday afternoon. B.C.’s Public Safety Minister Mike Morris and RCMP Asst. Commissioner Dan Malo characterized the shooters as unsophisticated young criminals.

“It’s caused a lot of fear in families in Surrey and throughout the Lower Mainland,” Morris said. “I share in that as well.

“We have full confidence in the detachment in Surrey,” he said.

“This is not just a police problem. This is a community problem.”

He said the police and government are working to rid local streets of these “low-level, street-level, mindless young people.”

Malo said of the criminals, “We want them to know we know who they are.”

“You’ll receive attention that you’ve never received before,” was his message to them. “That’s our word to you. So we are going to change your behaviour.

“We’re not talking about high-level organized crime. We’re talking about kids.”

Malo said Surrey RCMP will receive more help from other policing agencies in an effort to stop the shootings.

Surrey RCMP’s top cop, Asst. Commissioner Bill Fordy, said people should expect police to stop the violence, and are making progress. This week they arrested five people and seized 13 guns.

“We have a significant operational plan,” he said.

Last week, the Surrey RCMP dropped the bombshell that, as of April 1st, there had been 28 shootings. Until then, the public knew of 16.

“I knew the numbers would be alarming,” Fordy said.

He said the RCMP provided the number to the public “in spite of the fact” most did not have victims, in the spirit of police transparency. There has so far been one fatality, which the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team is investigating.

That said, Fordy also noted that there will be incidents where it’s “not in the public interest” to make a shooting publicly known, for investigation purposes.

He denounced the shootings as acts of cowardice not fair to Surrey.

“They will not define us,” he said.

Meantime, former Surrey mayor Bob Bose had strong words for council.

“The council has to take responsibility for this situation,” Bose said of the shootings. “All they can think of is hiring more police. It’s not done a damn thing.”

Bose, who was Surrey’s mayor from 1987-96, said city council has to pay more attention to maintaining the streets and enforcing bylaws.

“There are parts of Surrey that are in serious decline and serious decay,” Bose said.

“They can bob and weave all they like, but they’ve been hell-bent on developing every square inch of this city.”