Surrey Gang Violence Is Ruining City's Rep, Mayor Says

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LINDA HEPNER BILL FORDY
Chief Superintendent Bill Fordy, left, Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner, centre, and Assistant Commissioner Dan Malow address the recent spate of shootings in Surrey, B.C. at a news conferernce, Monday, April 20, 2015. | Keven Drews/CP
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SURREY, B.C. — The mayor of a Vancouver-area city where police have logged 31 shootings this year has approved 24-hour police access to more than 400 closed-circuit cameras in an effort to stop the violence.

More RCMP resources and specialized teams are also being added in an effort to end the gunplay.

Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner told reporters Friday that the shootings have damaged the reputation of the city and she promises those involved will be caught.

"To the citizens of Surrey and the residents here, I want to tell you that progress has been made and we have made arrests,'' she said.

"What is really disheartening for me is that these individuals are smearing our community and our city.''

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RCMP Assistant Commissioner Dan Mallow said they've learned that those responsible are "kids'' in a low-level dispute over drugs.

"But it's not one group that's driving around the city of Surrey and the Lower Mainland that is creating this situation.''

He added that the problem isn't just in Surrey, but in Metro Vancouver as well.

One person has been killed and several have been injured and residents have a right to be concerned, he said.

"What is really disheartening for me is that these individuals are smearing our community and our city.''
— Mayor Linda Hepner

"Those responsible for those brazen shootings have shown an absolute disregard for the safety for our large communities and that should be unacceptable to all of us.''

Public Safety Minister Mike Morris told the same news conference that some of the shootings have been around elementary schools and in residential areas, which has led to greater police focus on the crimes.

He said there would be no good outcome for young people playing with guns.

"There's life in jail, if you're lucky enough to get caught. There could be a toe tag in a morgue somewhere. There's nothing glamorous and nothing achievable by being a gang member in this country,'' he said.

"There's nothing glamorous and nothing achievable by being a gang member in this country."

RCMP also announced that two men they believe have been involved in some of the gun violence have been arrested and charged with drug and firearms offences.

In 2013, Surrey's murder rate reached record highs. Then-mayor Dianne Watts launched a special task force in an effort to uncover what was setting off the violence as the death toll neared two dozen people.

In the months after the task force was established, police said they made 153 arrests and seized cash, vehicles and other property connected to crime.

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