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Letters: Richmond city council needs to tackle gang violence

Richmond News reader and city council candidate thinks the city needs to do more to tackle gang violence
Jan 8, 2021 gang shooting crime scene 1
Police remove tape from the scene of a shooting in Steveston Community Park. The shooting, which left one man dead, is believed to be targeted and gang-related.

Dear Editor,

Two shootings, two dead bodies — one in the heart of Steveston Village, another in City Centre. 

Gang violence presents a clear and present danger to public safety in Richmond and Metro Vancouver.  Too many times we have heard about innocent bystanders who were hurt or killed because they happened to be “in the wrong place at the wrong time,” when gangsters’ bullets were flying. 

While there is no doubt that police agencies throughout Metro Vancouver are working hard to solve the recent homicides, including in our own public spaces, it is time to acknowledge that a gang war is raging.

I served over 35 years in law enforcement. In that time, I led the establishment of what became the VPD’s Uniform Gang Task Force. I saw first hand how to fight gang crime.

One tactic we used in Vancouver was disrupting gangsters where they socialized, whether that was a club, a gym or a restaurant. We made life hell for them, arresting them for even minor offences.

We sent a clear message — we see you, we’re watching you, we’re coming for you.

City council has a role to play in putting down the gang war too — they and the provincial government can do this by supporting police through budgets. Richmond city council must ensure that our local RCMP detachment has the support and the resources it needs to combat growing gang violence.

City council can also support efforts to make gang violence a top priority for B.C.’s solicitor general and consider potential legal solutions to assist police and keep the community safe.

Council can back programs aimed at keeping young people out of gang life — programs that work by focusing on prevention, and bringing stakeholders like schools and parents into the conversation.

Gangsters do not care about public safety;  violence is their currency and they don’t care who gets in their way. Even as shootings target gang members, the public is always at risk. Gangsters murder witnesses and kill innocent people because they’re driving a car that looks like one of their targets.

City council must make community safety a top priority. They must uphold the rights of law-abiding residents to feel safe walking through our parks or down No. 3 Road. A coordinated, comprehensive approach is needed to ensure the roots of gang violence are pulled from our city. The work starts by ensuring council ensures the tools are in place to make it happen.

Andy Hobbs

Candidate for

Richmond city council