Surrey RCMP will be given real-time access to more than 400 traffic cameras in the city, and the full force of the regional Mounties to put an end to this year’s shootings.
The announcement comes as Surrey grapples with more than 30 shootings so far this year – a rate of one every three days. It’s twice the rate of shootings that occurred last year.
The culprits are involved in a low-level drug turf war, police believe.
Mayor Linda Hepner made the assurance of traffic camera access for police at a press gathering at the Surrey RCMP detachment Friday (April 8) with provincial Solicitor General and Minister of Public Safety Mike Morris.
“I have given authority to the RCMP to have 24-hour, direct access, to the city’s network of 330 traffic cameras,” Hepner said, adding she has approved another 75 cameras to be installed, bringing the total to more than 400 at Surrey intersections.
While police had access before, they will now be able to draw images from the cameras from the RCMP detachment, rather than waiting until city hall opens.
Surrey RCMP Officer in Charge Bill Fordy said arrests are already being made regarding the gunfire in city streets.
Last Friday (April 1) the Surrey RCMP announced the seizure of $4.5 million in drugs, and the arrest of one man.
Fordy now says two more arrests have been made.
Alex Blanarou is facing six charges and Antonio Dennison is charged with four offences. The charges include unauthorized possession of a loaded firearm, possession for the purpose of trafficking and carrying a concealed firearm.
Fordy also listed two other arrests that have occurred in the last week involving guns and drugs.
Fordy said he’s extremely upset about the wanton violence occurring on Surrey streets.
“I am angry that we are standing here talking about the same type of senseless violence that we were discussing this time last year,” Fordy said. “These cowardly acts are unfair to this city.”
Morris said the province is doing everything it can to help stem the violence occurring on Surrey streets this year.
He said police throughout the region are working together to put an end to the gun violence.
“We will not stop as a province, as a police force, in our endeavours, to rid the province of these low-level, street-level, mindless young people that are indiscriminately shooting and causing fear in our community,” Morris said.
He also urged members of the community who have information to come forward to police.
Following the announcement, members of the BC NDP said they were disheartened by the minister’s lack of specifics in finding provincial answers to the problem.
Sue Hammell, NDP MLA for Surrey-Green Timbers, said more has to be done to lower the demand for the drugs being sold.
People need to be treated rather than locked up at a cost of $74,000 a year, she said.
She also said the province should be better funding Surrey schools, so kids aren’t on staggered bells.
Kids need to be properly educated before they leave school and make the wrong decisions about a gang and drug lifestyle.
Surrey-Newton NDP MLA Harry Bains said Morris was extremely soft on specifics.
“I’ve heard nothing new,” Bains said. “A provincial minister who’s the chief law enforcement officer, he had nothing to tell us.”
Fordy said more news of more arrests will be coming soon.
He also said a community forum planned at the Bell Performing Arts Centre has been moved forward to April 18.