How can the public help with fatal shooting investigations? We asked the homicide team
VANCOUVER -- A string of shootings has kept investigators busy in the Lower Mainland in recent weeks, but the homicide team says the public can also play a significant role in helping to solve violent crimes.
CTV Morning Live spoke with the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team's Sgt. Frank Jang on Tuesday.
Below is part of a six-minute interview, which has been edited for length and clarity. Watch the full interview in the video player above.
Jason Pires: What is the level of crime and violence like this fall around Metro Vancouver?
Sgt. Frank Jang: Last year we had 38 homicides. We're less than that this time, compared to the same time last year. But if we're talking about statistics (there was a) nine per cent decrease in criminal code offences in the Lower Mainland district as compared to the same time last year.
But we can talk about statistics, we can throw numbers around, but numbers don't mean anything to the families of (victims) … they don't care about numbers. And certainly the residents who were near this violence who could have easily been in the crossfires of this violence, they don't care about numbers. We have the numbers, but all we care about is solving these murders.
Pires: How concerned are you that these shootings are happening public spaces where you have innocent bystanders around?
Jang: (It's) very concerning. All police officers, throughout the region, anytime we hear about shootings in general, it's concerning because we think about who was hurt. Oftentimes these incidents are targeted. Oftentimes the victims are known to police, but we've been fortunate that no one else has been hurt, but anytime there's a shooting in our communities it is very concerning.
Pires: How concerned should people be that this gang-related warfare is spilling into residential neighbourhoods? What can be done to prevent it?
Jang: We're doing everything we can. However, one message that we really want to pass on to the wider community is, oftentimes when we knock on the doors of residents in the neighbourhood after an incident, after a homicide, we get reactions such as, "well, it's not my problem … it doesn't affect me." We really have to be careful that we don't fall into that state of apathy, where my neighbour's problem isn't my problem.
When we fall into that state of apathy, the killers win. We allow them to win and they would want nothing more than for us to just brush it off and say, "look, he was known to police, he was responsible somehow for his own death and it doesn't affect me."
We can't let that happen. We mustn't let that happen. We have to stay connected with our communities. We can't solve these homicides alone.
Pires: So you want the public to be more proactive in helping investigators out?
Jang: Absolutely. There's a number of ways to stay connected to the community. One of the ways, if you don't have one already, is to approach your local detachment and start a block watch in your community. There's a number of peer-to-peer communication platforms out there … stay connected with your neighbours. Start a social media page where you can share photographs, messages about suspicious activity in your community.
These are little things that we can (do to) stay connected. These are things that could really help a homicide investigation. There's a huge difference between a community that's connected and one that's not and when it comes to our investigations, it helps us so much when people proactively approach us with their material, with their surveillance footage, with their dash cam video, even before us approaching them.