COLUMN: Turf war no time for cuts

Police officers won’t be the ones who suffer from recently announced budget cuts

Cuts to special police units will eventually mean an increase in organized crime in B.C., and Surrey will be one of the cities most affected.

The province has cut $4.2 million from the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit (CFSEU) and Provincial Major Crime program, slicing a total of 25 investigators from the Outlaw Motorcycle Gang squad and the major-crimes’ missing persons and unsolved homicide team.

While spending on policing has to be managed, and policing needs change constantly, it is far too soon to cut back on enforcement which is targeting organized crime.

While a number of gang kingpins are in jail, most are either awaiting trial or in the midst of trials. The activities of their gangs continue. There is money to be made.

The Surrey Six trial is still underway. That particular trial has exposed the way that gang members think. Their thinking goes: Anyone who is part of a rival gang doesn’t deserve to live, nor in fact do any innocent bystanders who happen to be somewhere near where an execution takes place.

Surrey had a large number of murders last year. Not all of them were gang-related, but many were drug-related. Sometimes low-level drug dealers who aren’t part of gangs are taken out by someone bent on retribution.

The provincial cabinet, which ultimately made the decision to cut money from these policing units, needs to think back to the early months of 2009, when a wave of gangland slayings was underway. Several took place in Surrey. People were terrified, given that the crimes often took place in broad daylight.

It was pretty obvious that police had no idea of what was coming next. Several rival gangs were busy shooting at each other.

One morning in February 2009, Nicole Alemy, a White Rock woman associated with a gangster, was murdered while driving in Surrey.  A four-year-old child was in the back of her vehicle at the time. Many other shootings took place in Surrey in those few months.

In the first quarter of 2009, more than 20 people were killed and another 40 were wounded in this vicious turf war. Some of those crimes have been solved, but the turf war is far from over.

It is because of special policing units such as the ones being cut back that police were able to get more of a handle on the situation.

Surrey RCMP says, because it has a large force, it can absorb the activities of units that are facing cuts. That may be the case, but as has been proven many times, these crimes are not territorial. They take place in many jurisdictions, and combined units are far more effective.

Several Surrey politicians have suggested that these cuts will hurt. They are correct.

The police officers who are being moved to other units won’t be the ones suffering.

It will be the average people who get caught in middle of turf wars between gangsters, and it will be the young people who get caught up in what they think is a glamorous lifestyle. Only when it is too late do they realize what they have signed up for – an early grave, beatings, or, in some cases, significant time in jail.

The fights over drugs and other aspects of organized crime will always be with us. However, strong and quick responses to situations, such as those that happened in 2009, are vital for the welfare of the greater community.

Surrey and other Metro Vancouver areas need quick responses from police to situations of all types – and organized crime must be high on police departments’ lists.

Frank Bucholtz writes Thursdays for the Peace Arch News. He is the editor of the Langley Times.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The volume of visitors to White Rock’s Marine Drive over the weekend has led council to consider special measures this week. (Aaron Hinks photo)
White Rock council rejects resident-only parking for waterfront

Other health and safety measures to be considered in a special meeting Wednesday

South Surrey’s Paul Cottrell, who works with the DFO, tows a grey whale out of Semiahmoo Bay Sunday. (Contributed photo)
Dead whale floating near White Rock towed to shore for necropsy

Animal has been dead since at least April 15

Vehicles line up for the Greater Vancouver Drive-Thru Food Truck Festival at the Chilliwack Coliseum parking lot on March 27. The touring event comes to Cloverdale this weekend, April 24-25 (Photo: Jenna Hauck/Chilliwack Progress)
Here are the food trucks coming to Cloverdale for a drive-thru festival this weekend

Nine trucks will be parked Saturday, nine Sunday during event at fairgrounds

Pharmacist Barbara Violo arranges all the empty vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines that she has provided to customers at the Junction Chemist which is a independent pharmacy during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto, on Monday, April 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Parts of Surrey, North Delta to get AstraZeneca vaccines for people ages 40+

A total of seven communities in Surrey and Delta will be targeted

The Braidwood Band performs for the seniors at Zion Park Manor in Surrey, as part of a music program planned by Rick’s Heart Foundation. (submitted photo)
VIDEO: Surrey charity brings distanced concerts to care homes, with prop pink firetruck

Familiar tunes performed for seniors during pandemic-era ‘Heart for Music’ program

In this image from NASA, NASA’s experimental Mars helicopter Ingenuity lands on the surface of Mars Monday, April 19, 2021. The little 4-pound helicopter rose from the dusty red surface into the thin Martian air Monday, achieving the first powered, controlled flight on another planet. (NASA via AP)
VIDEO: NASA’s Mars helicopter takes flight, 1st for another planet

The $85 million helicopter demo was considered high risk, yet high reward

A man has died after being shot at Coquitlam’s Town Centre Park the evening of Monday, April 19. (Twitter/IHIT)
1 man dead after shooting at Coquitlam park: IHIT

The gunman is still at large, according to the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Dr. Bonnie Henry gives her daily media briefing regarding Covid-19 for the province of British Columbia in Victoria, B.C, Monday, December 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Toddler marks youngest British Columbian to die related to COVID-19

Child one of eight people to die from virus this weekend

Families of two of three workers killed in a train derailment near Field, B.C., in 2019 have filed lawsuits accusing Canadian Pacific of gross negligence. The derailment sent 99 grain cars and two locomotives off the tracks. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Families of workers killed in Field train derailment allege negligence in lawsuit

Lawsuits allege the workers weren’t provided a safe work environment

(New Westminster Police)
4 youth arrested after 30-person brawl in New Westminster leaves 1 seriously injured

Police are looking for witnesses who saw the incident take place

Sunday’s storm rocked one of the ferries crossing Kootenay Lake. Photo: Dirk Jonker
VIDEO: Storm makes for wild ferry ride across Kootenay Lake

The video was captured by ferry employee Dirk Jonker

Chakalaka Bar & Grill remains open in defiance of orders from Island Health to close. (Cole Schisler photo)
B.C. health authority seeks injunction against restaurant defying COVID-19 orders

Chakalaka Bar and Grill plans to continue serving customers without public health compliance

Most Read