RCMP take lumps along with praise at community meeting – Newton residents look forward to next step.

I apologize for the lateness of this post – it’s been a hectic week with back to school, followed by immediate return of stomach flu as a result. I still haven’t posted my weekly 24Hrs column here yet – which was published Monday – and I’m not nearly caught up on emails.I’m hoping this quick post will answer a lot of questions many are asking about the meeting, how to get in touch with the association and what comes next.

Many have been asking for my thoughts on the meeting and why I wasn’t tweeting or live blogging it.

First of all, I wasn’t there as media, I was there as a resident. ( I’ve received some flack for being in the room from those who don’t know I live in Surrey) Many long time readers know that for many years I lived very close to Unwin Park which is a couple of blocks from the bus loop. After a series of shootings happened right around the corner from my old house, a move to another area of Newton further from the town core was in order, but the Newton core is still very much a place I’m in frequently. My youngest attended pre-school last year at the Newton rec centre, in the arena building outside of which Julie Paskall was killed.

Every morning I would bus into the Newton bus loop, drop him off, head over to Safeway Starbucks to grab a coffee, then head over the Newton Library to work for a couple of hours until it was time to pick him up and head back home. The Dollarama is there, Greco’s deli, Lucky Horse restaurant, among a variety of other great businesses. For all the problems of the town centre and surrounding areas, it’s full of hidden gems that don’t get to shine like they should because of those issues.

Since I’ve been helping the Newton Community Association with their press releases, there has to be a bit of a separation there.  You can’t live in a community for years and not have an attachment to it,despite its issues.

Now for my personal thoughts on the meeting.

I’ve been very critical of Chief Superintendent Bill Fordy’s statements to the press in the past regarding public safety, and it will likely not be the last time that occurs. His public relations comments on gang activity not impacting the safety of regular law abiding citizens was brought up by one Surrey resident to applause from the audience.  But I have to say this. He took some harsh lumps on issues relating to policing in the city firmly on the chin, and made no attempt to spin, deflect or otherwise. No excuses were given, just an apology and comment that it was unacceptable, in instances where policing failures had been made.

It was also clear that residents have a clear appreciation and respect for the officers working the streets- something that was voiced several times. They know the officers work hard, that they are inundated with nearly nonstop calls and residents appreciate the work they do in the community-they just want more of them.

Newton residents brought up so many great ideas, many of which would be relatively low cost to initiate, others with more planning but still excellent ideas. Kevin Diakiw of The Leader seemed to have snuck into the room and has an excellent report, so I won’t rehash it here. http://www.surreyleader.com/news/239139271.html What I will say is everyone was so proud of the residents who showed up, who shared stories, who cried tears and brought excellent, excellent solutions forward. Newton is far more than the crimes and social issues even I have reported on, Newton is every person that showed up, and I guess that’s really why I’ve been so angry over the years at nothing being done. They deserve more. We all do.

One of the items brought up at the meeting and one Liz has been talking about for years – is an online reporting form for Surrey residents to report petty crimes such as thefts. I hope to see the RCMP implement this soon.

After the meeting, I did a walkabout with the mayors executive assistant, Judy Mann,from the seniors centre, to the bus loop, at nearly 10pm at night, and her teenage daughter accompanied us. We didn’t take security nor RCMP, but went on our own, as women walking in pairs for safety would do. It didn’t take Judy long to understand why residents feel unsafe in the area, particularly after dark, and what issues transit and rec centre users experience commuting and walking in the area.

We noted very dim lighting, a light out, lack of lighting and ample places to conduct criminal activity on or around city property. Those issues and the accompanying photos she took, were passed on immediately to staff in charge for review and/or action. The light was immediately replaced and an electrical problem with the light standard was being investigated.

City facilities must be safe facilities, because so many families, singles and seniors use them – the city could find itself in a position of liability if things like lights are not changed quickly. Translink could find itself in the same position for not providing adequate security for the bus loop, or allowing clearly criminal activity to continue without regard to public safety. The RCMP are now well aware of several issues they need to address.

Now that everyone is at the table, it’s important for everyone to keep the focus and pressure on until solutions are enacted – not merely promised. Every level of government must work cohesively with resident support and participation. There is, without a doubt, a lot to fix : immediate safety issues like security, policing,lighting, landscaping changes, and longer term solutions for a plethora of social issues.

Newton is a huge area within Surrey that includes both Panorama ridge, Sullivan and Strawberry Hill – a lot of people don’t realize that.  While Newton town centre ( which is a very small area) has received the bulk and focus of attention, the issues discussed at the meeting extend far beyond that.Residents from all areas of Newton attended, each concerned about what they could do in their particular neighbourhood and its important for each of you to get involved.

I have received a lot of emails and contacts from people who attended the meeting trying to find the Newton Community Association online somewhere.

Quite honestly, the group was still in its formative stages when this tragedy occurred and found itself thrust into the public eye far sooner that anticipated – they are working on a facebook page and a website right now, in addition to working hard on phone calls, meetings etc to get ready for the next public meeting that takes place in February. They work, they have families, and they all live in some part of Newton.

The committee is a super group of people, many of whom I have known for years like Liz Walker and Cindy Law. Most of them have been in one group or another for some time before this new effort was started. Honestly Liz Walker deserves a superwoman’s cape for all the years of work she has done in Newton, as does Cindy, but every committee member is dedicated to a safe,livable community for all of Newton.

To get in touch with the Newton Community Association, or to become a member, please email newtoncommunityassociation@gmail.com

There is also a twitter handle now too, no guarantees how often it will be tweeting, likely only major updates for now, while there is a lot of work going on : https://twitter.com/NewtonResidents

All Newton residents are invited to join the association, and there are other associations cropping up within Newton as well, in addition to many across the city.  ( I couldn’t find a current list of community associations for the city at the time of posting, but this is a good start http://www.surreyasc.com/members.htm)

One thing is clear. Newton residents have finally found their voice…In hindsight, it was more like a roar.

***In addition: it is very clear that only by adopting the Delta police standard of “No call too small”, will residents accurately reflect the real picture of crime in our city RCMP stats.RCMP stats are used to facilitate and justify funding for many resources including policing. The RCMP are aware that timely waits are happening and that at times, callers who report crime often, have on occasion, been told they are a nuisance ( this actually happened to a neighbor of mine as well, who called me the next day). That was addressed at the meeting, but it was made clear that those calls of thefts,vandalism etc must be made.

Newton(and all of Surrey) residents, please call and report crime when you see it happening: 911 for emergencies and 604-599-0502 for non-emergencies. Hearing impaired line is 604-599-7602.

It’s important to remember that Julie Paskalls killer is still out there. Somebody knows something. Even if you think you might have seen something, but think its not important, it might be. You can be anonymous by calling Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or their website http://www.solvecrime.ca/

One thing is clear. Newton residents have finally found their voice…

In hindsight, it was more like a roar.

But I thought we are all safe, Chief Supt. Bill Fordy?

In January of this year, I wrote a post highlighting the ridiculous, public relations driven position Bill Fordy had taken with regards to yet another shooting in Surrey.

While other police spokespersons in the lower mainland were making clear the inherent danger the public faces in any brazen shooting, Fordy was telling the people of Surrey they were all safe.

 “Residents are safe, he said, because “the overwhelming majority of (Surrey) residents are law-abiding citizens with no involvement with criminal activity”

My, what a difference a few months and a total of 12 murders in the city  makes.

Or is it, simply that this latest brazen shooting happened in the middle of Morgan Creeks tony shopping district where many of the cities well-heeled residents like to hang out at “urban” suburban places like U Lounge and shop in store outlets also found in Vancouver on Robson ?

Today after telling residents for months we have nothing to worry about, because these incidents in Surrey are targeted hits, for some reason, Bill Fordy thought the brazen shootings in South Surrey were:


“Let me speak very clearly. What happened last evening is not acceptable. The  fact that somebody would sneak up on another man in a public venue… in the  presence of children, men and women that are going about their business and  enjoying their evening is disgusting,” he said.  “The impact of this brutal  event extends beyond that of the victim who also has a family and people who  love him. It impacts on every man and woman who lives in our society and enjoys  the fundamental rights and freedoms of our country.”

Fordy said he has deployed his officers to gang hangouts around the city to  let those involved in organized crime know they are not welcome in Surrey, where  11 people have been murdered so far in 2013.

“I am also asking owners and managers of businesses that these persons  frequent to stand beside us and deliver a very clear message to people that  attend these restaurants, bars and gyms. And that message is simply this: you  are not welcome here and we do not want your dirty money,” Fordy said.

“Simply put, we’ve had enough. It is time for us as a society to stand  together and to stop this violence. This is in part a policing problem. But in  its totality, it is a community problem.”

Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/news/shot+dead+Morgan+Crossing+shopping+centre+identified/8291096/story.html#ixzz2RXbACXwU

No kidding. But let me share something with you. Brazen shootings,stabbings and murders are always disgusting Supt. Fordy. Always. Not just because this happened in South Surrey, they are disgusting when they happen in Whalley, or Newton, or Fleetwood or anywhere where local residents who are out and about or in their homes, are also impacted by the crime. Like the Surrey 6 murders.

Reality check.

Please tell me what is going on in that new million dollar bunker just built in Surrey, that the RCMP can’t get a handle on the number of guns on the streets here, coming across our borders.

That the  RCMP have not been able to effectively make an impact on the gang issues.

That the RCMP now have to ask defenseless business men and women to refuse service to known gangsters, quite possibly putting them in the line of retaliatory fire, simply because the RCMP haven’t been able to deal with it ?

Seriously? Are you willing to ensure the safety of these business people Supt. Fordy?

Perhaps the millions spent on the new E division headquarters would have been better spent on more police on the streets, so men like Bill Fordy don’t have to get civilians to do their jobs.

A lesson in public relations.

Sgt. Jennifer Pound, media spokesperson, IHIT, speaking about the second targeted shooting in Surrey last Sunday  :

  “We always like to remind the public that when these shootings occur in a residential area, in a public area, the public unfortunately are at risk,”

Sgt. Peter Thiessen, RCMP spokesperson, speaking of the targeted shooting in Richmond last night :

“Police recognize these types of incidents are very concerning to the public. The potential for innocent people to be hurt is high.”

Chief Supt. Bill Fordy, Surrey RCMP, speaking to reassure Surrey residents that their safety is not at risk with recent shootings :

“Residents are safe, he said, because “the overwhelming majority of (Surrey) residents are law-abiding citizens with no involvement with criminal activity.”

Little consolation to the families of two innocent bystanders murdered in the Surrey 6 case,  still  left waiting for justice 5 years after the fact.

Cobweb covered RCMP and Justice Department reports kept safe and sound for all these years… 33 years to be exact. Why is that?

“The saddest part about British Columbia is that neither the Legislative Library nor the RCMP , have a clue as to what’s in their respective  “collections” of tales and Reports and even more Reports……, the public included…”


“The RCMP appears to have turned a blind eye on past Reports ordered by  the Attorney General of British Columbia, specifically the one published in March of 1979.

Is there any Commanding Officer in Division E of the RCMP in British Columbia who can remember reading the Report from March of 1979?   Probably not, otherwise changes would have been made, the public educated on the Do’s and Don’ts of hitchhiking, lives would have been saved, cases closed, instead, the RCMP waited for someone to die in prison, in the USA.  While other serial killers are still walking Free.

The Report was made available to all Officers in 1979, even the most impressionable younger ones like the officer who has become the focal point for CBC’s: what an Officer should wear, WITH his boots, on.

Another RCMP officer has been relegated to a rural part of BC, somewhere, anywhere, to keep him out of the limelight, because he crossed the line in another Province when it came to not respecting another officer’s personal space.   No  guarantee that there won’t be a second encounter in either instance, or new cases added for other infractions.

…. 33 years ago, ten years after the Highway of Tears started to happen in 1969, The Report was published, centering on RAPE in British Columbia, involving mostly young women, some men.

The BC Legislative Library recently scanned their copy of the original Report for a “Patron” of the Library.   Was it for the Press, the Police, or the Public to peruse?   Was it only requested because of a death of that inmate in a prison in the United States of America?  The prisoner’s DNA matched the DNA found on victims, but why did it take so long?

The “Report” that the Attorney General of BC (Garde Gardom 22 Dec. 1975 – 24 Nov. 1979) received in March of  1979, is titled, “Rape in British Columbia“, written by Nancy Goldsberry.  The document is available in the BC Legislative Library.”

Go read the rest of this outrage over at Blog Borg Collective…. I can barely stomach the implications. http://blogborgcollective.blogspot.ca/2012/10/british-columbia-cobweb-covered-rcmp.html

And wonder…. how many more reports are floating out there, that might have made a difference if made public.

How independent is the new Independent Investigation office anyways?

Ben Meisner of Opinion 250 is wondering, after seeing how the recent shooting in Prince George was handled… from his site:

“…When asked why the IIO would use the resources of the North District RCMP in Prince George, if the IIO wants to be at least at arms length of the officers involved? Afterall, there are two RCMP entities in Prince George with the North District and the local detachment, Court seemed surprised to learn there are  two RCMP entities in Prince George.

With IIO investigators working so closely with the RCMP, using their experts and in some cases their vehicles, the question of independence in this investigation comes to the forefront. “

Read the rest of this report HERE: http://www.250news.com/blog/view/25702/1/iio+independence+questioned

***UPDATED w/ new photo *** WARNING: Extremely dangerous sexual predator released from custody… but RCMP refuse to show you his face.


***RCMP have now released a photo of Shalendra Kumar Sharma, after first refusing to in their initial warning to the public this morning, a move I applaud. While I understand completely the need to exercise diligence in investigations, law enforcement must always consider the potential threat to the public at large when making such decisions. In this case, my opinion is the potential to compromise an investigation into previous victims did not justify the far greater threat to women in the community who have a right to know about a dangerous sexual predator at large. I thank the RCMP on behalf of all women in the community for reversing this decision, and urge my readers to share this photo with everyone you know. ***

A big fail to the RCMP this morning, as they take the step of warning women about an extremely dangerous sexual predator from Surrey, who has been released on bail while for trial for a series of sexual assaults and forcible confinement over a number of years.

The catch is, RCMP  refuse to release his photo -despite saying they are worried and need to warn the public –  which they say could compromise ongoing investigations into finding other victims – thereby putting all women at risk because we have no idea what this predator looks like.

However, RCMP have released a photo of one of his vehicles and a licence plate # …. click on the link for that photo.

There is so much that could be said about this situation, which mirrors others I have written about in the past. Releasing men they know are dangerous because the law allows them to… only to have them re-offend again, while on bail, as the offender did in the link preceding this sentence.  Something has to change.

From NW this morning:

Burnaby Mounties have issued a rare warning, as a man accused of sexual and violent crimes against women is released from custody.

43-year-old Shalendra Kumar Sharma was released two days ago as he awaits trial.

That has police worried, because they say the Surrey man is extremely dangerous.

Sharma was the subject of a news conference in February, after he was charged with four counts of sexual assault against four different women between 1994 and 2011.

He is also charged with four counts of confining women, two counts of assault and one count each of kidnapping and uttering threats.

While Mounties are not releasing Sharma’s photo, saying it could compromise their investigation as they look for other victims, they are releasing vehicle information.

Sharma is  currently driving a red 2007 Ford Escape with BC license plate 008 RWG.

In the past he has driven a 2003 blue Ford Explorer, a 1997 red for Explorer and a 1991 red Pontiac Sunbird.