We can’t arrest our way out of this – Asst. Commissioner Bill Fordy
Surrey: Before a near capacity audience at a Surrey Board of Trade luncheon, Assistant Commissioner, Bill Fordy, Surrey’s top cop, reported on the activities of the detachment over the year speaking on Crime statistics, they’re all down except for the drug oriented shootings, the public’s perception of crime and public safety, and prolific offenders, cybercrime and the Internet and “shots fired” in the low level battle for turf between the greedy young drug dealers.
Fordy said that the shootings that are holding the attention of the media and the population are a result of their success in arresting the players last year, which left a vacuum that another crop of kids driven by greed, the easy score, the easy money and the perceived easy life, are all too eager to fill. He said unless they turn away, its more likely they’ll end in jail or dead.
“I have overseen an operational plan that is comprehensive. I have a broad base of investigative experience as an investigator and as a major case manager. I have the resources that have the skills and abilities to stop this, and I’m confident we will. But I think the key is that the parents and people who have influence over these young children, who are predominantly male, get them to understand the consequences of their decisions on themselves or their family, said Fordy.” He said he believes it starts at home with meaningful discussions on these issues.
“I said we will stop this situation but in the long term to prevent the problem from coming back over again, to think we are going to arrest our way out of it would be short sighted,” he said. “We will stop this conflict, but I’m worried about the conflict next year, and the year after that and the year after that. The long-term solution is to educate our youth, educate the parents and the community more broadly.”
On the enforcement side, Fordy said that the resources he received over the year in addition to the 100 officers, are being supplemented by greater intelligence gathering, really smart analysts, additional air resources and covert teams. He reported they are making better headway compared to last year in their ability to interdict activities, make more arrests and seize more weapons.
The Assistant Commissioner also said that the schools have a crucial role to play intervening earlier with young people, strengthening the Wrap Around Program, and for police to become more visible and engaged in the middle and high schools.
Fordy praised his team saying that Surrey has a skilled police force whose members are proud to serve the city.
“Over my past four years here, I learned that perception of crime is as important as the reality of crime, and I often think it’s more important,” Fordy said. “The police officers, work with facts and evidence, but when it comes to dealing with crimes in the community, the perception of the problem to the residents and business owners, becomes reality. If there’s little or no connection between police and the public, small numbers of events can be perceived as crime being a big problem. But if the people and the police are in regular communication, and hear that they are working on the problems, that it’s being attended to, people will more likely perceive that crime is under control even if there’s significant crime happening.” Fordy indicated that managing the perception is a big part of the job and that community engagement is critical.
Delivery of Service:
Fordy told the audience that there has been a decrease in property crime as a result of their targeting prolific offenders and making it difficult for them to cause problems. He said that theft from autos has dropped 26%, break and enters are down 21% and homicides are down by 40%.
“But sometimes the numbers often don’t matter,” Fordy said. “We could do all the right things but if you and your neighbours perceive that we’re not doing enough, not focusing our efforts on the right crimes, not responding to community concerns in an effective and efficient manner, then we need to examine what we’re doing and try to find ways to improve that.”
He said, that’s not to say that crime statistics aren’t important. They provide the justification for the resources needed to deal with issues, and how people feel in their communities matters because it influences how the community responds to police.
Fordy said that cybercrime, an international problem, is rising dramatically. People must protect themselves and others who are vulnerable,” he said. “The internet is a thing, not a place where great things and bad things happen.” He said it was the place where fraud, identity theft and extortion can happen, citing his own experience of receiving a fraudulent letter from criminals masquerading as Revenue Canada.
He said that with the technology so accessible, criminals didn’t need to have more than basic skills to perpetrate crime, so people must remain vigilant. He also signaled that police feel that there needed to be some changes in privacy and access to allow better investigations to take place.
The top cop reminded the audience that it was important to ensure good communication with the newcomers, keeping in mind that they often come from countries where the police are corrupt and can’t be trusted. He said that the RCMP is the only force in the world that sends police to Jordan to acquaint the prospective refugees with Canada and the way of life here.
He said that the RCMP partner with the City to prepare city staff to work with newcomers, communicate with them, listen and build relationships so the transition will be smoother. He told the audience that the refugee population is low risk.
The chief ended his presentation with an invitation to visit the main detachment during the Open House, which is schedule for Saturday May 16 from 12 to 3pm, and see first hand what goes on behind the detachment walls with the large bison head on the crest.