The million dollar question in Surrey.

( More to come on Hydro this week,but today,recent events & conversation prompts this)

 

Earlier this year I had an admittedly uncomfortable conversation online with a long time Surrey advocate who would send me every link to every news story about every shooting or violence in the city, particularly in Newton. As someone who’s lived in Surrey and written extensively about how this violence impacts life in the city, I knew without it being said that the expectation was there that I would blog about it but I asked them directly why,if they were so concerned, they were saying nothing themselves?

The answer was understandable-managing work,personal life and duties as a block watch participant etc.- things we all balance in life – but what it came down to is that she is often ignored,even though her words come with direct experience and stats to back it up.

What’s troubling is that she wasn’t the only person I’ve had this same conversation with recently. Another long time and highly respected resident messaged me after the recent shooting in Newton,the latest after a series in recent weeks that’s causing a lot of angst among residents who fear a repeat of 2015. She was very upset, it hit very close to home for her,in an area with many young families.

I understood her concern, we all share it after more than 56 shootings in 2015,in addition to a large number of reports of shots fired where casings or holes couldn’t be found. Shootings that became increasingly brazen,occurring in mid-day in family neighbourhoods, hitting houses and cars and schools and in one case, terrifying a child who grabbed her playmates and took them to safety.

But I told her quite honestly, I didn’t know what to do in the face of so much silence again. I asked why and her response: “Because you get harassed for talking.”

I get that city officials want to change the media narrative and showcase what’s great in the city,but changing that narrative is only going to happen when the violence itself, stops.Not talking about the issues,doesn’t solve them. Asking or pressuring people socially to be quiet about it, doesn’t either. We are the good and the bad and it’s ok to acknowledge both – and we must.

So here I am. Because there are so many amazing people at the grassroots level in this city, working hard to make changes happen in their communities, whose good and hard work is often overshadowed by this kind of violence. They are working hard to build a sense of community and get people out of their homes and get engaged and develop community pride. They are promoting local business and starting art galleries and planting new public good gardens.  And they aren’t letting the violence stop them…but there is an underlying concern always of where those bullets are going to end up… and why it seems to be unstoppable.

Surrey leaders reacted to last years ongoing gun violence by bringing in a new director of public safety.  More meetings, more committees,more working groups. This report presented to the Public Safety Committee shows the framework for the cities new strategy, which by their timeline, is to be launched October 2016….

(I can’t help but wonder what the result would have been if the city committed to lobby the provincial and federal governments for extensive social supports for our youth and vulnerable citizens, with as much dedication as they have committed to LRT in our city…https://www.biv.com/article/2016/2/surrey-hires-liberal-lobbyists-push-federal-infras/)

Reports in the media indicate that most of the 100 new officers promised have been brought in, but concerns were voiced by sources as early as January that the number of general duty officers in each district,per shift hasn’t significantly changed, which impacts response times. Nor has there been any comment on the number of officers lost  due to attrition, that will offset the new officers that have come in.

Gun violence in this city is not new and as the cities expansion continues without the desperately needed social infrastructure to go along with it keeping pace,one is left to contemplate the results. Who is responsible? City leaders yes,but also every resident in the city. When you get engaged and hold city,provincial and federal politicians accountable, they are forced to act.

A friend of mine reminded me of what happened during Quebec’s biker wars in the 90’s. As long as the bullets were flying between gang members only,not a lot was done. But when an 11 year old boy was hit by flying shrapnel after a car bomb exploded beside him on his way to the pool on a hot summer day and died days later, residents were finally spurred to action.

In Surrey, we are so much more than the sum of our parts and growing pains…but unless residents realize it is no longer enough to shake their heads and make concerned grimaces at the news, the cycle will continue.

That, I can guarantee.

Change

 

*** The next Public Safety Committee meeting is Monday April 11th at 11:30 am. I strongly urge residents interested in what’s going on, attend if they can. It would nice if the city held these important committee meetings in the evening like council meetings, so residents who work, can attend.

Also… some more great work being planned by more amazing people…. please get involved if you live in the area!

pathwayproject

20 thoughts on “The million dollar question in Surrey.

  1. “I am not being heard.” Common refrain. But it is NOT true. They are being heard.

    In fact, the real cause of the problem is that ‘being heard’ is all that is being done…talking and hearing and meeting and reports and committees (and people drawing salaries).
    I understand that a civilized society has to go through that process. I think we all understand that.

    Most people will accept even two rounds of talking and listening (AKA; dithering and hand-wringing).

    But when the process just recycles and recycles, it is frustrating.

    And those whose voice is constantly not even heard at all, start to act out. Some get guns. The committees and meeting attenders have to learn that repeating that perpetual inaction cycle actually exacerbates the situation over time.

    Action needs to happen at a certain point or the meetings are counter-productive. How many years to get 100 more police that don’t seem to be having an effect? Duh! THAT tells you something right there!

    The point: a plan of action needs forming and implementing immediately. Key word: implemented. Study and analyze as you go.

    Chat all the hell you want while the work is actually getting done. You do not have to get it right the first time – you just have to act and adjust. God, I am glad I am not there!

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    1. Laila

      It is, what makes it so frustrating for many residents, particularly those in the area where so many shots are fired.

      There are so many incredible people living and working here. We have one of the most incredible beaches in the lower mainland,colleges,a university,thousands of young families who can’t afford to live anywhere else in the lower mainland… the potential for greatness here is easy to see and great things are being done here. And it is true that a lot of that goodness is never reported but good news rarely does.

      But people need to get engaged, consistently and constantly.We do need police numbers to keep pace with population growth and to cover this large area. We also need mental health care and facilities.Intervention in highschool and elementary schools. Education and supports for special needs and kids at risk and oh yes,let’s not forget properly funded education period, instead of overcrowded schools where kids fall through cracks….

      Support for at-risk,vulnerable families and youth. Most of these supports fall under provincial jurisdiction and we are lacking-that’s been talked about to death. But I’m not seeing much action on that at the provincial level when it comes to funding and I think most supports in Surrey would agree.

      Families of the youth involved,need to speak out and stop protecting their loved ones who are doing this as well, and that’s part of a community support system as well.We know those families remain silent and refuse to speak with police.

      There are a lot of good officers working on the streets of Surrey.I can’t imagine any of this is easy on them. There have been several community safety meetings in different areas hosted by RCMP which is a good relationship building and awareness exercise- many people don’t report crimes because they don’t attend,but they need to realize those reports help dictate need and funding.

      I’ve not blogged about Surrey for some time,waiting to see how things moved forward with a new council etc. But I can’t force people to get engaged or involved if they prefer to remain silent and feel defeated. It’s an exercise in frustration when there are so many good people like David Dalley and Friends of the Grove working to make things better.

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      1. There have been instances of grass-roots constructive action but they are rare. Most people (especially in the Lower Mainland) need to be employed more than even full-time. It’s expensive living in a giant penitentiary (I mean ‘city’). Who has the energy? But that is NOT the point. The point is that those who are paid, don’t do the job either because they are part of a giant system that moves glacially, they don’t live there, or they have tried and are burnt out. The reasons are myriad. But, if you want to do something, then the people have to do it and let the province and the city be damned. To hell with them! This has to be community driven and that does not mean ‘system sponsored’. Won’t happen any other way except by real neighbours doing real things. And no, that is not veiled Trump-speak for vigilantism. Let the police bust heads and taser.

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        1. PS – so that the above does not sound like MORE talk.
          First off, try to make sure all the cops who are on the force live in Surrey.

          If not, trade them with other jurisdictions. It has to be a ‘policy’ for awhile. Seconded they call it. Doesn’t have to be forever. And then they will have a real interest.

          Secondly, Surrey must have 100’s of sane, responsible counselors and they have to belly up a ‘case’ a week. Free. Call ’em. Ask ’em. Tell ’em. The social workers will tell ’em who to go see.

          Like BIG Brothers only more difficult and with older youth. Thirdly, the ‘assimilated’ South Asians have to help the recent arrivals. That means guidance in Canadian ways. THEY have to belly up. Same for any other identifiable cultural group.

          ESPECIALLY other groups – ’cause they are outnumbered. Usually it takes three generations before immigrants ‘settle in’. There are books on it. We have to shorten up that time. Fourthly, a group of seniors (at least three at a time, the older the better – they are safer) from each community has to go visit troubled homes every week for a long time and offer guidance to troubled youth (who will not listen for the first year or so). People need relationship before community can happen.

          Finally, everyone has to have ‘action’ tasks after every stupid committee meeting so that the next one means something. I do not attend meetings anymore. For that very reason. So that no one says it; I will shut up now.

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  2. Gary Young

    We lived in the area before and were amazed at the gang related shootings and killings. The mayor did little but allow much tree cutting for developments. While the police ALWAYS want MORE cops, the ones they have are poorly utilized.
    It seems like all the “Surrey” jokes will continue while the local govt twiddles thumbs, orders very expensive lunches and receives salary and perks… what is wrong with this pic.
    Thanks Laila for your constant vigilance.
    Gary Young 250-396-4403

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  3. erik

    It may have already occurred to folks that the one thing all politicians fear most is to be placed into a corner publicly.
    On our side of the Gulf we had to fight off the prospect of a garbage incinerator being sited on Duke Point.
    Our success in stopping this project, even though a few Nanaimo politicians wanted it to happen, was to publicly “name and shame”. Sure some politicians cried foul-ball but we persisted, and because the internet made our representations available to all area voters we got action.
    We did nothing libellous so there were no repercussions other than a number of ” dark” looks and remarks.
    Good luck.

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  4. Krys

    This is really no brainer, make drugs legal and “organized crime” goes away and so does all the violence it attracts. When you look at all the stuff that “physicians” are pushing on those that are “not awaken” it is not a big deal. Hiring more cops or not giving a permit to Cloverdale Gun Show solves nothing.

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  5. So what does Mayor Hepner and Surrey First do about all of the shootings in Surrey? Why, block the BC Rod & Gun Show from returning to Cloverdale of course!
    Sorry Linda but it is not the law-abiding shooters and hunters who have completed government mandated firearms safety courses and RCMP background checks that are the problem in Surrey. It’s the gang banging Scarface wannabe’s with illegal handguns smuggled from the USA who are targeting each other in Rootin’ Tootin’ Shootin’ Newton.
    We want a show of force against gun violence in the city of Surrey, not a show of farce. This pathetic political correctness achieves absolutely nothing.
    Don Pitcairn, “The Naked Truth” columnist
    White Rock Sun (whiterocksun.com)

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    1. Laila

      Leader reported 8, then corrected said it was 10… possibly 11. http://www.surreyleader.com/news/372602721.html

      The NOW reported 11, possibly 12 based on news reports since Jan 1st. http://www.thenownewspaper.com/news/372584601.html

      The RCMP don’t seem eager to confirm either, and city leaders are silent again. All the improvements in the world will mean nothing if they don’t get a handle on this. And I do not accept that there is nothing that can be done. This needs to be a joint effort on the part of feds/province/ city. Border services.Youth interventions.

      I agree Don. When you look at past stats of shots fired, there is clearly a big issue with illegal guns. And people don’t want to talk about that. This is not just a cyclical thing that is an anomaly- look at the RCMP’s own stats. https://lailayuile.com/2014/07/31/access-to-information-documents-show-an-average-of-46-3-founded-shots-fired-calls-between-2007-2012-in-surrey-b-c/

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  6. e.a.f.

    People need to step up if they want things to improve in Surrey. that means taking the time to write blogs, letters to the editor, letters to politicians and the RCMP at all 3 levels. Its a lot of work and there will be blow back, but the alternative is worse. People can’t expect known bloggers to shoulder the load. (writing a letter takes about 10 minutes–you’re not re writing War and Peace)

    Another blog, Gangsters Out, which reports on crime, gangsters, shootings, etc. wrote there is almost a shooting per week in Surrey. You would think the mayor, Hepner, might get concerned about this, but not so much. The head of the RCMP, Bill Fordy, just got a promotion. Obviously there are a lot of people who just don’t care. That includes the majority of citizens in Surrey, because they re-elected the same bunch in the last civic election.

    The provincial government doesn’t care. The federal government might care, but has other things on their plate and may consider some of these problems something local and provincial governments can and should deal with.

    I’ve always maintained, until 10 middle class citizens a month are shot and or killed in Surrey nothing will be done, because Surrey council and the RCMP don’t want to spend the money to deal with the gang violence. The last time we saw the Fordy and Hepner flapping their gums, that is all they did. Then they went back to sleep.

    When you live in a province where one in five children live below the poverty line, do not expect politicians to solve the problems. They don’t care. You’re going to have to do that yourself or change the politicians. Some may want to give some consideration to running on a reduce crime and social problems platform. You just might get elected and the pay isn’t bad, just ask Hepner.

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    1. Hear, hear! EAF is right on!
      And, if you do run, do not run so that you can get paid to ask others to get more money to hire more police who do not care. THAT is the problem. The biggest do-nothing is to ask for money to throw at a problem. The best that can be seen as is: ‘referral and delegation’. The worst is more faith in filthy lucre.
      Bottom line: “In money, we do not trust!” In people, there is hope.

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  7. Laila

    Let me be clear. The force was far behind on officers thanks to a city council that refused to open their eyes for years- at one point Fordy asked for X amount of officers and was denied and given less.Then it was revealed prior to the election how few roadable officers were actually on the road per shift and then the crap hit the fan. http://www.surreyleader.com/news/270391551.html

    We only had 38 officers on shift for the entire city,during a shift. Surrey is massive. Big incidents like shots fired take officers off the streets and reduces response times- we need to have enough roadable officers to be able to respond to all calls,not just shots fired. But cops are often kept sitting in hospitals w/mental health calls,or all these other things that happen.

    So yes,more police was needed and an officer on the force bravely spoke out in this letter: http://www.thenownewspaper.com/opinion/300246751.html?mobile=true

    So now we have all these new officers. But they are literally ‘new’officers. But how many roadable officers are actually on shift right now? Is the ratio actually higher after attrition is looked at? Because I’m hearing that it is not significantly higher. I’m hearing morale is very low right now. I’m hearing management isn’t using resources the way they should be used.

    And the city, well they hired a lobbyist to help get money from the feds for Hepners LRT dream, but no lobbyist was hired to get the provincial funding needed for youth intervention programs, or mental health help and support, or anything of the other provincially funded items that would help in Surrey.

    We have a huge border with the US. A reader tells me the gangs in Surrey are using BC weed in exchange for guns and cocaine from across the border.Well that’s the feds at border services and our port access – wheres the $$ to get on this?

    Anyways, we’re stuck with a mayor that thinks LRT is the biggest issue in this city, has said to the press she was surprised and had no idea where youth are getting guns and sends out the acting mayors for comments on crime this week….but was more than happy to talk to the press about LRT funding.

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    1. NOT DIRECTED AT LY.

      Just a rant.

      Funding (money) will never get the job done. Money is a band-aid at best. The problems Surrey face are HUGE and growing. It’s suffering from a virulent disease. Admittedly this disease of greed is now humanity-wide but there is always one place worse than others and, in this province, it is Surrey. King Canute sat in front of the sea and commanded it back. He failed. Got wet. Commanding this disease by way of police will not work. They and you will just get wet. Hasn’t worked with the drug cartels in South and Central America, has it?
      I, frankly, think the problem is values-based. We now worship money instead of morals and ethics and education. See Donald Trump. Greed is the new God. And even what morals and ethics we do show are mired in money (judges, lawyers, health care professionals, politicians, professors, etc. – and why is that? Because the pay is good!).
      They say, ‘follow the money’ for good reason. That’s where the rot begins. But, if you are fed up with the rot, you should eschew the money, go poor and get simple.
      At least get away from the epicenter of the virus.
      Put another way: would you have stayed in Sierra Leone during the recent Ebola outbreak? Would you move to Kuregem in Brussels tight now? Does Damascus or Baghdad look appealing? Of course not. And neither does Surrey.

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