Anti-gang tactics working, Mountie tells conference

Gangland murders down in B.C. but officer wants to keep pressure on

RCMP Chief Supt. Dan Malo spoke at a conference on gang violence prevention Thursday in Surrey.

The battle against gangs in B.C. has made big advances but now is not the time to relax, a top B.C. Mountie told a conference on youth gang prevention Thursday.

RCMP Chief Supt. Dan Malo said he believes redoubled community efforts and new policing tactics can further dent organized crime and prevent a resurgence of the gangland bloodbath of five years ago.

“We’re down in the statistics,”  Malo told delegates in Surrey at the Acting Together gang prevention conference organized by Kwantlen Polytechnic University.

“A number of [gangsters] are in jail, a number of them are dead, a number of them have changed their behaviour and others we have forced to change their behaviour.”

There have been just three gang-linked murders in B.C. so far this year, way down from 2007 to 2009, when the annual death toll ran as high as 36.

Malo said it’s becoming clear a police strategy of pressuring prolific gangsters to make life uncomfortable and rob them of their power and influence is helping.

He said it’s also clear earlier enforcement in B.C. failed because gang members “weren’t being touched” while they spent lavishly and developed the attitude they were “superstars” who could kill at will.

“In the 90s and the 2000s we let people people like [gangster] Bindy Johal run crazy. We let the United Nations Gang and the Independent Soldiers run around with hoodies on that said they were all that.”

Youth in B.C. cities were recruited and sucked into the vortex of violence.

“Many of these young kids went from street level bullying to drug trafficking to extortion to contract killing in a matter of a few years, when traditional organized crime takes decades to do that.”

Past policing success was measured too much by the number of bad guys jailed or kilograms of cocaine seized, Malo said, and focused heavily on taking out top crime kingpins.

Today, he said, more effort aims to change attitudes and behaviours.

“It needs to become part of the fabric of British Columbia that this kind of behaviour is not tolerated. We take our young kids, we turn them into superstars in our communities – not gangsters.”

The new endganglife.ca campaign of B.C.’s anti-gang police unit plays on emotions of gangsters with imagery of loved ones left behind after they’re dead.

Malo said it worked on one ex-Lower Mainland gangster, who recently agreed to exit the life rather imagine his child having to bury him.

The biggest challenge was answering the man’s question of what he would do now to keep earning $6,000 a day.

Malo said officers arranged for the ex-gangster to enter a training program for a job that will pay well.

“If they choose to exit that lifestyle, we’re going to help them do that,” he told delegates. “We’re going to support them because they’re going to change their behaviour.”

Community groups can play a huge role in helping build strong character in youth and “give them role models that are not Jamie Bacon.”

Malo also wants to put pressure on others who profit from gang activity.

“We have to lean on businesses that take straight cash for vehicles,” he said.

“We know car rental places that make all their money from renting cars to gangsters. We need to work with them maybe tell them that’s not the right side of the community they need to be in.”

While there have been signs of success – Malo also counts the doubling in the price of cocaine in the past couple of years to $60,000 a kilogram, indicating a crimp in supply – there are also trouble spots.

Heroin overdoses have spiked in the last six months, he said.

And too many B.C. criminals remain influential players in the international drug trade.

“Now is not the time to take our foot off the gas.”

Just Posted

Shuswap offers one-stop wellness for seniors

Salmon Arm centre for seniors with chronic conditions offers collaborate approach to health

Former Kamloops sheriff caught in sex-related sting pleads guilty to lesser charge

Kevin Johnston will be sentenced on Nov. 6 for his role in communicating online with a person posing as a 14-year-old girl.

Shuswap refugee family settles into new, more hopeful life

Father of 10th Syrian family to come to Salmon Arm says learning English, work, top priorities

UPDATE: Preliminary inquiry for Sagmoen continues in Vernon

Sagmoen, whose charges were split into three separate matters, has been in custody since Oct. 2017

Salmon Arm Silverbacks rally to beat Vernon Vipers

Overtime goal lifts home team to 4-3 B.C. Hockey League win Sunday afternoon in the Shuswap

Your morning news in 90: Oct. 23, 2018

Tune in for 90 seconds to get the top headlines for the Okanagan, Shuswap and Similkameen.

B.C. cold case helps ‘60 Minutes’ explain genetic genealogy

An arrest in the 1987 double-murder of two people from Victoria was one of three examples highlighted in a segment you can watch here

Delivery of cannabis could be impacted by postal strike

BC Liquor Distribution Branch look at alternative third-party delivery services

Around the BCHL: Chilliwack Chiefs snag spot in CJHL national rankings

Around the BCHL is a look at what’s happening in the BCHL and the junior A world.

Rural regions get priority for B.C. referendum mail-out

Ballot security measures aim to protect against voter fraud

B.C.’s natural gas supply could see 50% dip through winter due to pipeline blast

It’s been two weeks since the Enbridge pipeline ruptured near Prince George on Oct. 9, sparking a large fireball

Mega Millions, Powerball prizes come down to math, long odds

Biggest myth: The advertised $1.6 billion Mega Millions prize and $620 million Powerball prize aren’t quite real

Shuswap Selkirks bring home medals from season’s first meet

Swimmers show continued improvement at Penticton competition

2 Canadians advance to finals at world wrestling championships

Olympic champion Erica Wiebe just missed joining them with a loss 3-1 to three-time world champion Adeline Gray of the United States in the 76-kg event

Most Read