Surrey Community Alliance Proposes the Creation of a Police Force

While authoritative action against gang violence is important, youth resources matter more

Surrey RCMP cruisers parked outside the District 3 precinct police station in Newton. (Braden Klassen)

Surrey RCMP cruisers parked outside the District 3 precinct police station in Newton. (Braden Klassen)

According to an article in The Vancouver Sun, Doug Elford, a city council hopeful and president of Surrey Community Alliance, wants the City of Surrey to create a municipal police force to diminish local gang violence. In response to the recent targeted shooting of two teenagers—16-year-old Jaskarn Singh Jhutty and 17-year-old Jaskaran Singh Bhangal—the alliance wants to make sure that the community doesn’t lose any more kids the same way.

Elford says there should be a “boots-on-the-ground” approach to policing the city that will make officers more visible. Rather than hiring more police, he suggests that they should be deployed more efficiently.

Still, this change in deployment may not adequately solve the problem.

While a new force sounds promising for a city that has been plagued by gang activity for decades, it’s not enough to require officers to be visible for locals. As Tom Gill, a Surrey councillor with Surrey First and a candidate for mayor, told The Vancouver Sun, ending gang violence is more complicated than placing more police on the street. There is much more that needs to be done before a new municipal force comes into the picture.  

If Surrey really wants to address the root of the problem, one of the things that they need to do is educate their youth. As argued by CMP Corporal Elenore Sturko in an article by The Surrey-Now Leader, kids need to know the reality of what it’s like to be involved in gangs.

She also said that Shattering the Image, a presentation about this subject made to youth in elementary schools, is one of the long-term strategies that will help keep kids safe.

SFU criminologist Evan McCuish told the CBC that 90 per cent of gang-affiliated youth committing serious crimes drop out of school or are expelled. This means that the city will need to connect with them before they get to high school. Fortunately, Wake Up Surrey has plans to unveil a “one year action plan” and launch three summer programs meant to draw youth away from crime, according to an article in The Surrey-Now Leader. This seems to be a much more efficient approach to slowing gang violence in Surrey.

While I understand why the Surrey Community Alliance wants a municipal force, it would come with added costs. In fact, hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars have gone towards addressing the issue already.

Hopefully, the government will work efficiently with the authorities to come up with helpful resources. If that money were spent on programs such as behavioral courses to change the perception and attitudes of people who affiliate themselves with gangs, we would likely start to see more productive change.

In the long run, every member of the community should be involved in tackling gang violence. Rather than leaving it up to the police, let’s hope that everyone who cares about the safety of Surrey citizens does their part.

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