Q+A: Surrey Cpl. Elenore Sturko discusses the city's uptick in violent crime
VANCOUVER – New crime statistics show an uptick in violent crime in Surrey, a city where officials have imposed a hiring freeze on police officers.
In the third quarter of 2019, Surrey saw an increase in every category of violent crime except sex offences, according to new numbers posted online Thursday.
Homicides increased by 67 per cent, from three in Q2 to five in Q3, while attempted murders jumped 167 per cent, from three to eight.
Discussing these statistics and Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum's push to replace the RCMP detachment with a municipal force, Cpl. Elenore Sturko sat down with CTV Morning Live Friday. Below is part of a six-minute interview, which has been edited for length and clarity.
Jason Pires: What's your overall reaction to the statistics? Is this a surprise to you?
When it comes to looking at stats, it's important to remember that we have four quarters. They're a three-month snapshot of what's been happening over the last three months and these are in comparison to the last three months that took place ahead of that. So when you're talking about a rise, you're talking about the number of incidents that happened three months of July, August, September, compared to those three months before.
Also I guess important to note is that we also look at the overall crime stats when it comes to … our 10 year crime trends. That's actually trending down, even within those last 10 years when we've trending down you do see sometimes spikes in different crime types … depending on a number of factors.
Pires: Is season one of them? Because those last three months are obviously the summer time.
Yes, season is one of them. It also … sometimes has to do with prolific offenders. For example, we had a rise in property crime of 10 per cent. Over the months of July, August, September we had a couple of prolific offenders that were later identified, one of which was charged recently with 11 incidents related to property crime and facing now over 26 charges.
Keri Adams: The mayor is disheartened by these numbers and he's pushing for his municipal police force. Now this rise in property crime and violent offences under the RCMP, does that create a case for Doug McCallum and his municipal police force?
I can't speak for comments made by the mayor but we are certainly committed to continuing doing the best that we can with the resources that we have.
The important part about having stats, you know we don't just look at them at the same time that they're released to the public. As the data is being collected over this period of time, we have analysts that work seeing where there's rises and falls in certain crime types allows us to effectively deploy the resources that we have.
So when we began to see over the summer an increase in break and enters or an increase in thefts from vehicles, we deployed our property crime target team and our auto crime target team. So we actually use these numbers to make sure that we're using the resources that we do have effectively.
There's going to be fluctuations in the types of crimes that you're seeing at different times, and there's a lot of factors that go into that.
Pires: Speaking of resources, we heard from Surrey Coun. Linda Annis there, the city is now 52 police officers short of the hiring commitments made in 2016 and she says the mayors freeze on hiring is affecting public safety. Do you think there are enough officers right now in Surrey?
Our officer in charge did ask for an increase of resources. We didn't receive any additional officers this year, we may not receive any in the next year, but that's why it's important for us to continue with things like the statistics that we do have because we need to be able to deploy the resources that we have effectively and we'll continue to do the best we can with the resources that we do have.
Adams: I want to talk about a new project that you're hoping will make an impact on young girls. It's called Project Lavender. So tell us a little bit about what it entails.
Project Lavender is something that we're going to be highlighting this weekend at our public safety fair which is at Salish School between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. (Saturday). Project Lavender is a brand new project that we have going on that was built in consultation with young women and girls across the Surrey school district, which makes it unique.
They met with the girls and asked them "what is it you are most concerned about? What would empower you in making healthy decisions and what would help you avoid the pitfalls of youth?"
So they identified several things. Sexting, a lot of girls said they had received requests for intimate photos and stuff like that so it's really about helping them develop strategies to combat some of these things as they're growing up.
We're looking forward to seeing what kind of impact we'll make, particularly considering the important role that the youth actually played in developing it.
Pires: Speaking of youth let's talk about gangs briefly and recruitment. Is this still a massive problem in Surrey?
We face the same challenges that a lot of the cities here in the Lower Mainland are facing, with addictions and other social issues that continue to perpetuate gang activity in our community so we're continuing with programs like Shattering the Image, which goes into schools that helps breakdown the image that youth may have about being associated with a gang.
With files from CTV News Vancouver's Andrew Weichel