News Local

Beleaguered Surrey RCMP lift veil for academics

By Michael Mui, 24 Hours Vancouver

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Assistant Commissioner Bill Fordy. (JASON LANG/24 HOURS)

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Assistant Commissioner Bill Fordy. (JASON LANG/24 HOURS)

"Nothing angers me more than seeing an innocent person become the victim of a crime." — Chief Supt. Bill Fordy

With Surrey RCMP under fire for a record-setting murder rate, the community’s top cop has already taken the unusual step of bringing in a civilian-led team to identify “any shortcomings” in policing.

The RCMP is usually private about its operations, but Chief Supt. Bill Fordy told 24 hours on Wednesday he asked the University of the Fraser Valley to analyze all of the department’s operations in fall 2013 — a time when Surrey murders were skyrocketing.

Setting a record for homicides also prompted the city to strike a task force to focus on homicides, which the city said has been targeting “high-risk” locations.

Fordy admitted the review results might not be made public — since there’s police operations detail involved — but is designed to make the force more efficient and effective.

“It’s an independent, objective analysis,” Fordy said. “Rather than having police analyze themselves, we’ve asked an independent body to do that, so they can apply academic rigour, look at best practices across North America or perhaps further abroad and come to us and say, ‘Here’s some things you may consider doing.’”

The Surrey resident and father of three had just stepped out of a Board of Trade meeting to address the city’s crime situation. There, he vowed to ensure the victim of a December murder outside a Newton hockey arena, Julie Paskall, “did not die in vain.”

“There have been many times in my career where I have felt powerless that I could not make the pain of a family who’s had a loved one murdered, or a child abused, stop,” he said.

Fordy said the city’s crime rate has declined while the population has increased. However, Colleen Kerr, the city’s manager of crime reduction strategy, told the Surrey Board of Trade the rise in population — a 19% increase over five years — also brings challenges.

“The relationship between crime and disorder is very related to social issues,” she said.

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