Access to Information documents show an average of 46.3 founded “shots fired” calls per year between 2007 and 2012 in Surrrey BC

The news yesterday out of Surrey BC was no surprise to anyone who lives here, or to the many people who are now following politics in the city : Surrey is once again, home to the most violent crimes in the region.

More concerning to many Surrey residents last night, was that the  Surrey RCMP second quarter stats have yet to be released:

The news of the city’s ranking comes as the Surrey RCMP struggles to produce its own second-quarter crime statistics from 2014.It’s been a month since the second quarter was complete, yet Mounties are still working to produce the figures.

Initially, the RCMP said they were working to get an “apples-to-apples” comparison for the media, then that the numbers were being “reconciled.“Now, the Surrey RCMP is dealing with computer issues preventing them from uploading the information on the website.

It’s anticipated the second-quarter figures will be released on Thursday at about noon.

Transparency with respect to policing matters and crime stats has been an ongoing issue in the city for years.

After discovering the Police Committee minutes were missing from the city of Surrey’s site earlier this year and that many committee meetings were being held completely closed, instead of only closing for confidential or sensitive matters, I objected strongly in the press.

The result? While committee minutes for 2014 were posted, to this date of this post. the police committee minutes for 2013, 2012 and 2011 are still not posted for the public to see. No answers have been given as to why this is.

I’ve also made a public call and have discussed extensively online with local Surrey residents and activists, for the RCMP to include the incidents of confirmed Shots fired among the crime stats released to the public every quarter.

In my opinion, doing so would assist in giving the public a greater look at what is going on in the city with respect to violent activity,and possibly elicit greater community involvement in anti-crime and anti-violence initiatives.

For example, Vancouver Police do release those stats publicly, and use them to see if the strategies they have implemented to reduce violent crime are working.

VPDshots fired

In Speaking with Cst. Brian Montegue, media relations officer for the VPD, he clarified these stats are strictly shots fired incidents and that ‘stats are gathered based on the most serious offence. So if a person is shot and killed, the incident is recorded as a homicide and would not be included in the shots fired numbers’. These are strictly incidents of shots fired that were confirmed founded.

I also asked why the VPD shares those particular stats with the public and Cst. Montegue had this to say:

“While there are obviously many sensitive issues that we are unable to share, we do want to be as transparent as possible.

The residents of Vancouver should be able to see what type of crime is happening in the city and neighbourhood they live in and if the crime rate is rising or falling. The public should be able to see if the strategies employed by their police department are working or not. “

After deciding to submit an Access to Information request to the RCMP for this information ( which by the way, costs $5 just to submit) it was suggested to me by a colleague to check the previously releases in case someone already had.

In fact, someone had already requested this same information in 2013.

rcmp request

 

 

I searched to see if a story was done using these stats, but was unable to locate one-that wouldn’t mean one doesn’t exist.

What was released were the numbers for founded shots fired calls from 2007 to 2012, as below.

The graph below that is not from the RCMP, but created using their total years stats.

shots fired

shotsfiredgraph

I contacted the Surrey RCMP media office yesterday morning after speaking with the Ottawa office that released the info, for clarification on how they compile these statistics.

I wanted to know whether or not they include more serious crimes or stand alone, and to ask why they are not included in the crime stats released quarterly to the public.

As of the time of this posting, I have not received a return call. I also wanted to know whether or not they would provide me with the 2013 /2014 stats voluntarily. No reply.

Regardless if these confirmed shots fired resulted in greater crimes of homicide, injury or not, the numbers are telling and indicate that gun related activity on this particular standard, is not actually an anomaly in the city on a year to year basis.

From a low of 28 in 2007 to a high of 61 in 2008, the number  averages out to 46.3 incidents of  founded shots fired calls to 911 every year, between 2007 and 2012.

2013  and 2014 founded shots fired stats have not yet been released by Access to Information although a request has been made.

While the city of Surrey and the RCMP are both quick to point out  “anomalies” of violent crime years like 2013, it is also important to remember that Stats Canada’s most recent statistics show that crime is trending downward on a national level.

On that point,it’s worthy of examination if Surrey really is doing something unique with regards to crime reduction, or simply keeping to the national trend.

Clearly the incidents of gunfire in the city are concerning, in particular as in recent months they have again been particularly brazen, some occurring in daytime hours in busy family neighbourhoods. And clearly as these stats show,are ongoing.

One thing remains clear from discussion online with other local residents and community advocates today.

We just want the entire picture. We don’t need anything done to the stats, they are, what they are.

We don’t want reassurance that there is no risk to the public in targeted shootings or shots fired, because we know there is always a risk – one acknowledged by OIC Bill Fordy  as a “substantial risk to public safety” in this report to council earlier this year:

http://www.surrey.ca/bylawsandcouncillibrary/CR_2014-P003.pdf

Each of us wholeheartedly supports and is thankful for our officers in uniform on the street, who day in and day out deal with the issues we are all trying to change. There has been a tremendous amount of positive work and involvement with our local RCMP community offices and the officers who run them. But an essential element to finding solutions and lobbying for federal changes is transparency and accountability – both of which are works in progress at the management, decision making level in the city of Surrey.


13 thoughts on “Access to Information documents show an average of 46.3 founded “shots fired” calls per year between 2007 and 2012 in Surrrey BC

  1. All of the crime problems can be traced back to the amount of paperwork that needs to be done by each RCMP officers.

    I questioned a local RCMP office why he was not going to ticket and driver for making an illegal and dangerous U-turn on 72nd ave. at rush hour. He was parked a few feet away and witnessed the incident. He was typing up a log report at the time. He said that he was in a different division and that it was not is mandate to take action. He was’t going to report it in to his dispatcher until I requested it. That problem he said was the amount of police paperwork that is he was required to perform kept him for performing a lot of his duties.

    Back to the headlines. The real amount of firearms discharged in our city could be much high then reported. The RCMP can’t justify the manpower to look into a reported “ Shots fired” It would only take the office a few minutes to check it out, but would then require hour of paperwork.. If more then one car was dispatched to the site, The paperwork required would take valuable personal off the road. With very little backup to help them out there would be no offices / cars to attend to a car crash or any other dangerous situations.

    Its time to reevaluate our policing services surrey, lets get our own Surrey police force and keep a few RCMP offices to do some of the paperwork. Streamline the paperwork so our police force can do the work that they were trained for.

    If thats not feasible hire an office clerk to perform the paperwork from the back seat. Of course they need to put on a vest for protection.

    Like

    1. Laila

      Yes, I have been told that officers were asked to do their reports on the street following the Paskall murder earlier this year, to increase the appearance of police presence,so that doesn’t surprise me.

      I also agree the number of shots fired could be much higher – I recived unfounded shots fired calls as well and those all range in the 40’s per year as well. Now if shots are fired and are called in, but RCMP cannot locate any evidence, it doesn’t mean it didn’t happen, it just means they cant find credible evidence of it having occurred. Depending on where you are in the city, sound travels differently. So you could be correct.

      I personally have reported shots fired over the years,and having grown up in a rural northern area where people hunt and target practice,am pretty good at determining the sound of a gunshot vs a car backfiring or fireworks. Once it was a drive-by and a gangster was found shot in the backside in West Newton, once officers couldn’t locate any evidence of it.

      I don’t know that getting our own police force is the answer. I believe the RCMP can do there job and do it well, given the resources to do so. Investigations take plenty of time and officers off the street,and resources do get stretched. It’s not popular or politically correct to admit that, but Bill Fordy asked for more officers than he got, so what does that tell you?

      I also make the point now that Surrey is a massive geographic area to cover, even within districts. I cant imagine how officers on shift cover these areas when incidents happen. The RCMP has been responsive to resident needs and complaints and it is great to see mountain bike officers making rounds. But if I had my druthers, I would get rid of commissionaires and hire more officers. You cannot compare the training or abilities of the two.

      Like

  2. e.a.f.

    When Crime stats are not good for politicians, they become difficult to obtain. Its all about politics.

    Police paper work can not be done by a clerk. It has to be done by the officer involved or it might not stand up at some future date. In police work you have to establish a routine/protocol, just like in hospitals with nurses and doctors. A deviation from protocol and you can have some very unpleasant repercussions.

    What the city of Surrey needs is more cops and lots of them. Those cops need to be employeed by a Surrey Police Board. The politicians of Surrey have long liked to say they don’t raise taxes and the citizens of Surrey don’t want taxes raised. The result: a small police force, inadequate for the needs of a city its size. When a police force is under staffed, you get crime, you get shots fired, you get murders, you get all sorts of stuff. The citizens of Surrey don’t want to pay more taxes and they now have the results, a dangerous city with shoots fired.

    If Surrey council decided to have a referendum giving the taxpayers a choice of an additional $100 a yr in taxes for strictly police work, it would most likely be voted down. The citizens of Surrey would rather have the violence and save money and then be able to complain about it and blame the police. Just watch the next civic election. Anyone who promotes a Surrey police force with an additional tax to pay for it, will not be elected.

    Like

    1. Laila

      I agree, most police work of reports etc, can only be done with diligence by the officer/s attending. And doing it on the side of the road in my opinion, is a bit of a safety issue for an officer whose focus is on his paperwork and not his surroundings.

      We can re-align resources all we want, and should to create new efficiencies, but in the end its the men and women on the street who make the difference. The comparison to the VPD is not one of effectiveness or an advocacy towards a Surrey police department, its to show the transparency level on that particular stat. There was a 2009 study done from the University of the Fraser Valley where students conducted ride-alongs with officers on a 12 hour shift for a period of time. It was found most officers spent at least 3 hours doing reports and working on prior files on each shift. At that time, most of it was done in the office and that is where it should be done. It also noted that policing resources have not kept up with the demands of the job and changing technology.

      Surrey is a huge area, its continually growing and changing and the simple fact is the RCMP needs adequate resources to do their jobs, do them properly and safely. If that means more officers than by all means, re-prioritize city spending and priorities again, and get it done.

      And yes, I agree. There is one mayoral candidate advocating to get rid of the RCMP. I don’t see that getting anywhere at all.

      Like

  3. For a city the size of Surrey and the amount of crime that apparently takes place (unconfirmed) I am surprised there are only four comments posted and two of those are from Laila herself. WOW!

    There are a few comments above which I don’t think are well thought out.

    Starting a new police force is not in Surrey’s best interest. The cost of the logistics – office, cars, training, officers, support staff, etc. – would be immensely more expensive than hiring more RCMP officers. That is not a good idea.

    Having police officers do paperwork on a road incident is not a good idea. Officers should do the recording of facts at the scene and immediately after the incident occurred. Once they leave the scene, they may be required to attend to other matters before they get to the office. By the time they write their reports, they may have more on their minds than that particular incidents. Even RCMP officers can confuse too many events, especially after a twelve-hour shift. Financially, there is now a matter of overtime.

    Twelve-hour shifts are ridiculous, in my opinion. I have never found a worker who likes working 12-hour shifts, but they fight for them. Why? Because they want the extra day off. For police officers, nurses, and other workers in highly-intensive occupations should NEVER be required to work 12-hour shifts except in dire emergencies.

    The problem in Surrey is not caused by lack of RCMP officers and the protocol they are expected to follow. The problem started long before law enforcement came into the picture.

    The problem starts in the home when children are young, and there is no one in their lives who will teach them the rules of right and wrong. Their parent(s) are at work during the day and staff at daycares feed, water and bed-down children. They teach them about behaviour in their facility but nothing about the values in life. There are no consequences for inappropriate behaviour, it is only managed. WOW – to become a teenager and hang out with your peers is freedom. None of them yet mature, and have not experienced much in the way of actions without thinking and considering the possible consequences are now in groups supporting each other.

    Poverty contributes to the problem. Parents having to work for low wages while taxpayers cover the cost of daycare lacks logic at every level. It is difficult if not impossible for children to understand that their parents’ lack of education may be part of the problem, and the children should strive to do better. Children learn to make comparisons between what they have and what other children have, and they just want to be included, but they cannot. The difference breeds arrogance in the ‘haves’ and jealousy and anger with the ‘have-nots’.

    There is no doubt Surrey needs more law enforcement, but it does not necessarily have to be fully trained RCMP officers. Young people wanting to become police officers can be equipped with radios, cameras, and technology that allow them to record by voice what their eyes see and their ears hear. They can be trained to connect with people for crime prevent prevention. Their presence will deter some of the petty crimes that RCMP do not have time for. The new recruits can be everywhere, on residential streets, in playgrounds, malls, parking lots, school yards, etc. It is the visible presences of people with authority that will make the initial impression on people who might be inclined to go the wrong way.

    Finally a comment on taxpayers not willing to pay the cost. There are several ways in which to raise the money needed for a simple step to the solution, and we don’t know how people will vote if we don’t give them that opportunity. And It is not always have to be about a vote. People no longer trust politicians because politicians have taken great liberty in filling their own pockets without any risk of consequence.

    What we need is simple solutions and accountable government. Some people are talking about direct democracy, and its time has come.

    Like

    1. Thank you Mrs G for your comments

      I can understand your concerns regarding the startup costs of a new police force in Surrey. I still think a Surrey police force is justified. Lets look at some data showing what the different municipalities are using.

      We receive police services from: an RCMP provincial force; 62 RCMP municipal forces; 11 independent municipal police departments; one First Nations administered force and the RCMP federal force.

      Twelve municipalities in British Columbia are policed by eleven independent municipal police departments. The municipalities with independent police departments are: Abbotsford, Central Saanich, Delta, Esquimalt (policed by Victoria Police Department), Nelson, New Westminster, Oak Bay, Port Moody, Saanich, Vancouver, Victoria and West Vancouver.South Coast British

      Lets look at the Lower Mainland – placing Surrey in the center.

      -Columbia Transportation Authority Police Service /commonly referred to as Transit Police -New Westminster to the north
      -Delta to the south
      -Abbotsford to the east

      It appears the more municipalities are moving over to Independent municipal police departments. Why ?

      I believe that the RCMP should be replaced. An independent municipal police departments for Surrey should be concreted. Of course the research must be done to see if its cost effective.

      Should the RCMP ‘ride’ off into the sunset? What do you think …

      Like

      1. Laila

        To be quite frank, the city doesn’t have the money to even consider this course of action right now, period. Setting up a new force would be an incredibly costly venture and honestly that money could be better spent. Read the letter I posted. We need more officers than they toss out to appease the residents concerns and get some PR. Pure and simple.

        Like

        1. You have made your point Laila.

          The Now has reported (May 6) that Surrey is getting 30 new officers, 12 this year and 18 more in 2015. Mayor Watts has pledged that the city plans to hire 95 offices over the next 5 years.

          Quote from The Now “ At the same time as announcing the 95 new RCMP officers, the city said 20 Community Safety Patrol personnel will be hired and deployed in the community, 10 of which will start work immediately within the Newton Town Centre. The uniformed foot patrols will be staffed by BC Commissionaires. ”

          My question to you, Will this go through or will the new Surrey Mayor cancel this agreement . Getting new Offices on the streets of Surrey needs to be done now, not in the next 5 years. By then Surrey will be the new L.A.

          See more at: http://www.thenownewspaper.com/news/surrey-getting-30-new-officers-this-year-18-more-than-planned-1.1024197#sthash.8iWz4u1E.dpuf

          Like

          1. Laila

            The BC Commissionaires have a costly contract – the money would be far better spent on actual law enforcement imo.We need those RCMP now,yes, and then more as the city grows over the years. It has to keep pace. The criminals outnumber the officers, pure and simple.

            You want a successful city where business invests in every area? Then make it feasible for them to do so.

            Like

      2. I am not disagreeing with the idea of an independent police force, but I think we can grow one and add protection to Surrey at the same time with much lower expense. The suggestion that I made would also add new jobs to the city which would be another benefit.

        I am not a great fan of the RCMP. It is not the police force from years back, and I have known a good number of officers, some were family members. Generally speaking, they were trained in part to keep the peace, which caused less problems in communities. School age children were once flattered that a police or RCMP officer would chat with them. Not so today. They seem to be too busy, too intense and more suspicious.

        We have come a long way backward.

        Like

  4. Mosko

    Let us not forget the completely dysfunctional justice system in Canada, and BC in articular. When crimes take 3-5 years to get to before a judge or jury, that’s not justice, it’s a system decayed and rotten to the core that primarily benefits the lawyers, but also everyone down the line. We might have enough police if they didn’t have to continually deal with the same people over and over again.

    I cycled thru the Surrey City Centre today – not the gleaming, shiny centre Diane Watts likes to show off, but the junkie infested, depressed run-down area that looks like a US inner city. Building new building doesn’t do anythng for those people or the victims of their crimes.

    Like

  5. Pingback: The million dollar question in Surrey. – No Strings Attached : Laila Yuile on politics and life in B.C.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s