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Headline: RCMP unit works closely with the community

Subhed: Community Response Unit works closely with residents, businesses

photo: CRU officers making an arrest.

Surrey: A specialized team dedicated to addressing ongoing community concerns is having success reducing crime and increasing the safety and security of Surrey neighbourhoods.

Last year, the Surrey RCMP created the Community Response Unit (CRU) which works out of the five district police offices. CRU officers have strong backgrounds in community policing and an understanding of the diverse needs and challenges of each community. The majority of their work involves targeting problem residences where drug dealing and associated property crime often occurs, and areas frequented by prolific offenders.

Officers work closely with City of Surrey Bylaws, Fire Services, local businesses, and other partners to respond to community needs. They also work with local service agencies to help mitigate some of the underlying social issues behind these problems.

“Our Community Response Unit is very quick to take enforcement action on issues that threaten public safety and the quality of life in our neighbourhoods,” says Inspector Andy LeClair, Community Support and Safety Officer. “We want the community to know that our CRU officers are there to respond to their local crime and nuisance issues. People can stop by their local district office and talk to us about their concerns.”

On average, the CRU makes between 20-30 arrests per week and searches and dismantles at least one problem residence every 2-3 weeks. This year, the City of Surrey has seen reductions in property crime, mischief, theft, and stolen property.

On July 16, the CRU executed a search warrant at a residence in the 10500 block of 132 Street that had been identified as a drug house. Along with assistance from the Integrated Emergency Response Team (ERT), 18 people were taken into custody and a number of replica firearms were seized along with amounts of meth, heroin, cocaine and marijuana.

The residence was subsequently boarded up by the owner. Police and Bylaws officers continue to monitor the residence and liaise with the owner to ensure the concerns associated to this residence don’t reoccur.

Two weeks prior, CRU officers identified a priority target location in the North Surrey area that had been the subject of a number of complaints related to drug sales and consumption. On June 30, CRU, with the assistance of ERT, executed a search warrant on the residence and arrested ten people, including three on outstanding warrants.

A loaded handgun was seized along with amounts of heroin, rock cocaine and currency. The residence was boarded up and a no-occupancy order was placed on the residence. Officers and City staff were met with instant gratitude from residents who appreciated the enforcement on this nuisance property.

“I have found the Community Response Unit officers to be friendly, approachable and motivated to keep crime down in our neighbourhoods,” says Cloverdale Block Watch Captain Shonna Morgan. “These officers listen to residents’ concerns and act accordingly.”

Much of CRU’s success is due to local citizens making conscious efforts to observe and report any suspicious or criminal activity in their area.

“As a Block Watch Captain, I am continually encouraging neighbours to always be alert, aware, and report suspicious activity as it does pay off,” says Morgan. “Recently, residents in our townhouse complex noticed some suspicious persons changing license plates on vehicles in front of their unit. They reported it and it led to the arrest of three suspects.”

“Without residents and business owners keeping us regularly informed about issues within their neighbourhoods, we would not have the information we need to tackle some of these issues,” says Staff Sergeant Marty Blais, North CRU Commander. “Don’t be afraid to contact us – taking your reports is not an inconvenience, it’s our job. You may not always see an immediate response, but all of the information is being collected and tracked and will be acted upon appropriately.”

The Surrey RCMP encourages residents to contact the non-emergency number (604-599-0502) or visit their local district office to discuss any ongoing public safety concerns in your community. Joining a local Block Watch is also a great way to organize your community and report collectively on crime.

For more information on the RCMP’s crime prevention programs and services, including how to join a Block Watch program, visit www.surrey.rcmp.ca.

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