With an increase in gang violence throughout the Lower Mainland in recent weeks, including a brazen, deadly shooting May 1 at a North Delta mall, Delta Police are stepping up enforcement in an effort to stop further violence in the community.
Last weekend, the department launched a new team focused on intercepting potential gang or related activity, and acting as a deterrent, through a high profile presence in public spaces such as along Scott Road and at popular restaurants.
The launch of this new team is part of the department’s three-pronged approach – interdiction, investigation and prevention.
“We’ve had good early feedback on the new team,” said DPD Chief Neil Dubord. “Specifically, we heard from restaurant managers and staff, as well as patrons, who welcomed the high visibility approach. The public often wonders if we know who the gangsters are, or know their family members and associates. Yes, we do. Unfortunately, Delta is not immune from the gang conflict. Gangsters and associates might travel through Delta, or they and family members may live here. Our analysts work closely with intelligence experts from across Metro Vancouver to share information and make sure we are well-informed on the movements of gang members.”
DPD say officers stepped up visits to locations where gang members are known to frequent, and made some informative stops last weekend. Those who must abide by curfews and conditions are being checked regularly, say DPD.
Police also share information on known gangsters with restaurants and other businesses through the department’s Inadmissible Patron Program. Officers continue to promote this program and work with the community to let gangsters know they are not welcome.
Although DPD are part of the integrated Police Dog Services unit, Delta has its own Specialty Dog Unit. These dogs can sniff out firearms, ammunition and drugs. The dogs are now working with part of the new high-visibility team, and will be called when suspicious drivers are pulled over.
Dubord said with the May 1 shooting, the department expedited the implementation of this new specialized team, which was to take place later this year.
“We heard loud and clear that people had some anxiety around public safety within our community and I think everyone was impacted by that shooting,” said Dubord.
Although this new team was launched in North Delta, Dubord said residents should also expect to see a higher visibility of officers in South Delta.
“We have seen most of the activity in North Delta, but that doesn’t mean South Delta is immune,” he said. “The drug culture, which this centres around, is in all of our communities whether that is North or South Delta. We know there will be gangsters who will travel through both communities, so there will be resources in South Delta as well.”
May 1 homicide investigation
DPD continues to devote significant resources into the May 1 homicide investigation of BC Corrections Officer and Surrey resident Bikramdeep Randhawa, which occurred at the Scottsdale Centre Mall.
Dubord said 40 full-time officers are investigating the shooting and are still looking at three potential avenues as motives – personal life, professional life and total mistaken identity.
“We have not determined any one of those yet. We have pieces of evidence that are directing us towards whatever the end result may be, but it is still very active and we are still collecting, looking at video and analyzing evidence from the scene,” said Dubord.
Police received good information from the public, and continue to solicit photos, videos and other information, which can be uploaded directly through a link on the front of the department’s website at: deltapolice.ca.
Dubord said the current conflict is defined by an unusual development – the increased involvement of youths in gangs.
“Unfortunately it is estimated that 50 per cent of today’s gang members are in their teens and contrary to what some might think, it’s not poverty that has driven them to crime. These youths typically come from a middle-class background, but may suffer from other forms of trauma,” said Dubord. “We need to concentrate more of the work we do with youth-at risk at a younger age from a Delta Police side.”
In order to address this issue, Delta Police School Liaison Officers and the Youth Unit are working with CFSEU-BC’s End Gang Life, the Delta school district and programs such as Yo Bro and Yo Girl to divert youth from risky activity. Family members and community programs are also key, as the supports must encompass all facets of the youth’s life.
“We started to see an increase in the demand for intervention and preventive steps with youths in 2020, and our officers have only gotten busier, as youths struggled with the impact of the pandemic and other related issues,” added Dubord. “But we know the effort we are putting in now will pay off in the long term.”
Despite the May 1 shooting and increases in gang activity, Dubord maintains that Delta is a safe community.“We continue to be a safe community, but it does establish the fact that we are not immune to these situations happening,” he said. “With the recent explosion of gang activity in the Lower Mainland we have to continue our efforts.”