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Police in Surrey and Abbotsford crack down on gang violence

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A data-driven project saw police dispatched to “hot spots” last March to disrupt and suppress violence, leading to 59 arrests.

Abbotsford Police anti-gang officers Abbotsford Police / PNG

B.C.’s anti-gang agency says a data-driven project in Abbotsford and Surrey, which identified “hot spots” where crime was expected to happen, led to a significant reduction in street violence in March.

The Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of B.C. (CFSEU-BC)’s “Project PARA BELLUM,” conducted over 30 days in March, led to 59 arrests, 111 charges under provincial statues and 45 criminal charges, Insp. Duncan Pound said at a news conference Thursday.

The project was a collaboration between CFSEU-BC, Abbotsford Police and Surrey RCMP.

Pound said experts used a decade of historical data analysis, geospatial analysis and real-time intelligence to identify clusters of activity and specific times when violence peaked in Surrey and Abbotsford. Gang police were then dispatched to those “hot spots” to disrupt and suppress violence.

While the project was effective, exactly how much crime was reduced has yet to be calculated, Pound said.

“Early indications are all pointing toward a significant reduction in gang-related violence in Surrey and Abbotsford while Project PARA BELLUM was active,” Pound said.

Pound said a total of 2,147 people were checked, 1,101 occupied vehicles were searched, and police generated 435 case files. The project led to 59 arrests, 111 charges under provincial statutes and 45 criminal charges.

Police seized more than 40 prohibited weapons, four firearms, and illegal drugs including more than a kilogram of crystal meth, Xanax and fentanyl.

“I think what’s sort of fascinating about this is we’re taking historical information and then geospatial analytics,” Pound said.

“So we’re not saying we know someone, specifically, will do something, we’re saying these may be areas where by adding a high-profile, visible police presence, or looking for potential problems, we’ll prevent something before it takes place.”

Spread across a table at the RCMP E-Division headquarters, police had on display evidence exhibits including some of the drugs mentioned along with dried and edible cannabis, and baseball bats, brass knuckles, bear spray, guns and a samurai sword.

At the end of the table sat a square, black Skip the Dishes thermal bag picked up during a traffic stop, which police found was being used to carry drugs, Pound said.

“There were suggestions that (the bag was) the process for delivering the drugs — mostly marijuana,” he said.

“It was just being operated in a manner that wasn’t all too different from Skip the Dishes.”

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