The New Westminster Police Department is advising residents to be “vigilant” as gang shootings increase across the region.
In a May 17 press release, the Vancouver Police Department stated there have been 20 gang-related homicides in Metro Vancouver in 2021 and 20 attempted murders. The VPD said police are expecting the violence to continue and escalate.
Sgt. Sanjay Kumar, spokesperson for the New Westminster Police Department, said the key message to residents is to remain vigilant.
“These incidents are definitely increasing,” he said. “It’s all our jobs to be aware of who you are with, where you are. At the same time, we are not trying to say, ‘Don’t go out.’ It’s not that message at all, but just be cognizant of the areas where you are and then paying extra attention to what’s going on around you. It is escalating right now.”
Kumar said the NWPD is working with other police agencies and the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit regarding the gang violence.
“Our gang unit is out there. Right now they are on patrol, but they are still doing their due diligence and being out there, doing their checks, working with our partner agencies,” he told the Record. “We will just keep working this issue together.”
The NWPD’s gang suppression unit, which consists of three members and a sergeant, works closely with CFSEU and gang enforcement teams in Surrey and Burnaby, Kumar said.
“They are out there doing their curfew checks. They are working their projects, which I’m not going to get into right now,” he said. “They are out there being present.”
In recent weeks, shootings have occurred across the region. That includes two nearby shootings in Burnaby at Market Crossing on Marine Way and just across the border on Sixth Street.
“The way that we approach it is that it could happen anytime, anywhere. Just because it hasn’t happened in New West doesn’t mean it’s not in the future,” Kumar said. “We just have to do our part and be out there, be visible so the public sees us and so these gangsters, when they are going across the city, they do see us.”
Kumar said the gang suppression unit is aware of gangsters who may live in New Westminster.
“That is what our gang suppression does. They are aware of the targets in and around the city,” he said. “They do pay them visits, and they are actively monitoring their statuses and what they are doing.”
In response to the surge in gang violence, the Vancouver Police Department has taken the unusual step of releasing the photos, names and ages of six gangsters that they believe pose a significant risk to the safety of the public.
VPD Chief Const. Adam Palmer said there have been “numerous reckless, brazen acts of violence that threaten the safety of innocent bystanders,” and he wants residents to know the faces of these individuals and to keep their distance from them.
“Our police intelligence leads us to believe that the individuals we have identified today may be targeted by rival gang members,” he said in a May 17 news release. “My greatest concern right now, related to the ongoing gang violence, is that an innocent bystander will be hurt or killed during a shooting targeting a gangster.”