No ‘app’ for face-to-face policing, top cop says

Surrey's RCMP Officer in Charge Bill Fordy addressed a crowd of more than 200 at the Surrey Board of Trade on Thursday.

Surrey RCMP Officer in Charge Bill Fordy.

Surrey RCMP Officer in Charge Bill Fordy.

Surrey’s crime problem won’t be “arrested” away, it will have to be tackled with a comprehensive and meaningful strategy, the city’s top cop told a business crowd Thursday.

On the heels of ongoing gun violence in Surrey, Assistant Commissioner Bill Fordy addressed the Surrey Board of Trade on April 14. The plan to speak with the group came months ago, long before escalating shootings in Surrey had become an issue.

The crowd of more than 200 at Eaglequest Golf Course listened intently as Fordy laid out the state of crime in the city.

There’s a vast difference between perception of crime and reality, he said. For example, someone who is at a restaurant that’s robbed and then goes home to see a car broken into might have the notion crime is rampant, even if those were the only two offences occurring in the community, he said.

Conversely, someone who has a great relationship with police and sees no crime might think all is secure, when it might not be.

Everyone, he said, has a different viewpoint.

“It’s my job as officer in charge to understand your perception,” Fordy said. “And that understanding can only come through meaningful, honest engagement.”

He noted responding to community concerns is paramount.

“Face-to-face communications will not be replaced by new apps, fancier phones or faster computers,” Fordy said. “Talking to each other is important; sharing information is important.”

Fordy also touched on the work done with Syrian refugees.

He noted the RCMP is the only national police force in the world that sent officers to Jordan to speak with refugees about the country they were going to.

Locally, Surrey RCMP has created a Diversity Unit and is teaching officers about the Syrian culture to assist in front-line policing.

“This is really the foundation of community policing,” Fordy told the crowd. “It is about being present in the communities, opening up conversations, listening, starting to build trusting, meaningful relationships, while trying to maintain everyone’s safety and security.”

Fordy reiterated what he told the press last week about the spate of shootings in Surrey so far this year.

The perpetrators will be caught and punished, he said.

Meanwhile, efforts must be made to ensure children aren’t being “lured” into the high-risk drug lifestyle by the illusion of fast money.

For every dollar spent on that prevention, he said, $6 is saved on enforcement.

To that end, the Surrey RCMP is continuing to work in schools and hold community forums on how to best educate children at home.

The next one of those is scheduled to take place at the Bell Performing Arts Centre (6250 144 St.) on Monday, April 18 at 6:30 p.m.