Gang Violence in Our Communities

A Monday afternoon session drew a large crowd to hear from experts and community leaders on the issue of gang violence and organized criminal activities in BC communities.

Award-winning reporter Kim Bolan who covers organized crime for the Vancouver Sun and through her blog, ‘The Real Scoop’, facilitated the session.

Ms. Bolan highlighted that gangs have been around for a long time in British Columbia and that no community in BC is immune to gang-related activity. Bolen’s presentation covered the history of gangs in BC and the transformation from street gangs to sophisticated high profile criminal organizations in recent years.

Ms. Bolan identified that some of the solutions to reduce future gang-related violence could include a comprehensive BC wide curriculum in the schools, more exit strategies for gang members, and introducing a specialized court system for certain gang related activity.

The panel included Honorable Mike Morris, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General; Chief Superintendent Kevin Hacket; Williams Lake Mayor Walter Cobb; and Surrey Councillor Mike Starchuk.

Minister Morris highlighted a number of initiatives to reduce gang violence in the province including October’s firearms amnesty, which in the past has seen thousands of firearms and ammunition taken off the streets; and the creation of the Illegal Firearms Taskforce, which will meet later this week to develop draft recommendations to be released in 2017.

Morris also committed to the development of a Gang Exit Pilot Program, which will focus on providing other opportunities for gang members such as employment and other services.

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