Dianne Watts

Task force comes down on drug homes

Group met on Tuesday to discuss how to reduce the number of homicides occurring in this city.

If you’re associated with a drug house in this city, expect frequent visits from the RCMP and bylaw officers.

A mayor’s task force, made up of RCMP, crime analysts, a criminologist, bylaw officers, fire officials, city engineers and school district representatives met for the first time on Tuesday night.

The task force – created by Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts to reduce the homicide rate in the city will be asking police to focus on known drug houses.

Watts said the two-hour meeting set out the approach as the city attempts to figure out why Surrey is facing a record number of homicides this year.

There have been 23 murders this year, compared to 21 in 2005, which was the previous record.

By comparison, Vancouver has recorded five murders so far in 2013.

“Doing nothing is not an option,” Watts told The Leader Wednesday.

Cracking down on drug houses may not have an immediate effect on the homicide rate, Watts said, but something has to be done to interrupt the high-risk activities that can lead to murder.

“The bottom line is we need to interrupt the activities of people that are involved in criminal activity,” Watts said.

As to whether the new focused enforcement will require a new team on the RCMP, Watts couldn’t say for sure.

“That may be a result in that,” Watts said. “We are putting together the strategy and we will be implementing it immediately, within the next week or so,” she said.

For the people who frequent drug houses and who want help with their addictions, Watts said are resources in Surrey that can offer assistance.

“I would suggest the ones selling the drugs are not the ones that want the help,” Watts said, adding a loud and clear message will be sent to people involved in crime.

“I do not want for one moment for any of these people involved in criminal activity to think that we are complacent and that it’s okay to do business in this city,” Watts said. “Because frankly, it’s not.

The task force meets again next week.

@diakiw

 

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