This week marks the official launch of the Surrey Outreach Team in the 135A Street area of Surrey. Announced in December, the Surrey Outreach Team is an integrated approach to addressing public safety, health, and quality of life issues in and around 135A Street.
The Surrey Outreach Team is comprised of twelve Surrey RCMP officers who are now in the area 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 4 Bylaw officers dedicated to the area 10 hours a day. Fraser Health and Emergency Health Services are also actively engaged with the Team and providing their support and services.
A strategic approach is being used to enhance public safety by engaging the public, businesses, and to safely facilitate the work of community partners working in the 135A Street area. This has resulted in hundreds of positive contacts being made whereby continuous support was provided, especially during the recent inclement winter weather. Prior to the official launch of the Team in January, Surrey RCMP officers and City Bylaw officers have been working in the area 24 hours since December 7th to build relationships.
“Though in its’ infancy, the Surrey Outreach Team is committed to an accountable ownership of issues that continue to be a challenge for this part of our city,” says Superintendent Shawn Gill, Surrey RCMP’s Community Services Officer. “By consistently and strategically working together we are enhancing the safety of our residents and businesses as well as community partners in the area.”
The Surrey Outreach Team is currently working out of a mobile command centre on 135A until a temporary office can be constructed and installed. They have recently been provided training in cooperation with Fraser Health, and they are ready to maintain a consistent and supportive presence on 135A Street with the goal of assisting vulnerable people that frequent the area as well as ensuring that others can safely live and operate their businesses. As outlined in the Public Safety Strategy, when vulnerable persons receive support and develop increased capacity for healthy, safe living, this often leads to a reduction in criminal activity and a reduced demand on social services and policing.
“We are changing the way we approach the issues in the 135A area with our new City Centre Response Plan,” says Dr. Terry Waterhouse, Director of Public Safety Strategies for the City of Surrey. “Together with the Surrey RCMP and our community partners we are committed to addressing the issues in this area with tangible, concrete action. The Surrey Outreach Team is an important component of this plan.”
Local businesses and community agencies are encouraged to see the Surrey Outreach Team in the area.
“Businesses in the area of 135A are delighted to see this initiative from the Surrey RCMP and the City of Surrey,” says Mike Nielsen, Director of the Downtown Surrey Business Improvement Association and local business owner. “The challenges in this area have increased significantly over the past five years and it is great to see the police and city putting resources on the street to engage with people and try to help them instead of simply moving them along.”
“Lookout is thrilled to have a more collaborative and integrated approach along 135A Street with Surrey RCMP and the City of Surrey,” says Shayne Williams, Executive Director for Lookout Society. “As the primary service provider in this area, we know just how essential it is to have a hands on approach, building trust with people in need. Our main goal is to help people secure housing and connect them to resources – we can do this more effectively when there is a better understanding between the vulnerable people we serve and our partners.”