Pubdate: Mon, 31 Jul 2017
Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 Postmedia Network Inc.
Author: Kim Bolan
Page: A1



B.C.'s new solicitor general wants to review the province's anti-gang
programs to see if changes are needed to more effectively battle
brazen gun violence.

Mike Farnworth, the NDP's longtime critic of the public safety
portfolio, told Postmedia News the public is understandably concerned
by the ongoing violence.

In recent weeks, there have been several shootings in Surrey,
Abbotsford and Vancouver, as well as a killing in Chilliwack that
police say was a targeted attack.

"It is a critical issue in the Lower Mainland and at the end of the
day, it doesn't matter where you are - whether you are in Surrey or
Vancouver or Pouce Coupe or Prince Rupert - you deserve to feel safe
in your home," Farnworth said. "People deserve to be safe and feel
safe in their communities."

He said he plans to sit down with police "and look at the programs we
have got in place."

"Are they doing what we hoped they would do? Can we make them

Farnworth also wants to look at where the previous government
committed additional resources over the last year.

"I want to look at where they are going, how the police feel about
what was announced. Are they the right resources?" Farnworth said.

"I will be talking to communities about the specific issues that they
are facing. Are they seeing emerging gang violence in communities or
emerging gang issues in communities?"

In cities like Surrey and Vancouver where there has been gang issues
for years, Farnworth said he wants to meet with municipal leaders to
hear their concerns. "Do we have enough resources in terms of policing
and boots on the ground for example and are they being used in the
right way?" Farnworth asked.

"I think in many ways, it is like bringing a fresh pair of eyes to the
programs that are in place and the resources that are in place."

The NDP campaigned on expanding Surrey's Wrap program for at-risk
students. Farnworth said he would like to see the program implemented
in cities such as Abbotsford and Kelowna.

"We need to be looking at how do we deal with those who are in gangs
now, the violence that is ongoing now - but we also need to look at
how to break that cycle at the beginning through prevention and
programs that are needed to dissuade people from getting into these
gangs in the first place," the Port Coquitlam MLA said.

His ministry will work with Ottawa on marijuana legalization, which
will "get the black market out of " the pot business, he said.

Farnworth said he would like to see a more rigorous "follow the money"
approach to tackling organized crime in B.C.

"Is there an opportunity to do a review focused on following the money
… with the use of auditors in terms of tackling organized crime and
using the tax system? That is a tool we can use."

While street-level violence may disturb the public most, it's critical
to focus on "the bigger picture in terms of organized crime,"
Farnworth said.

"They are related. There is the street level, which is causing
problems, and then there is the embedded organized crime, which is
just as insidious and they are evolving to take advantage of laws that
change or changes in technology."

Postmedia News recently reported the challenges B.C. prosecutors have
faced in getting the Hells Angels designated a criminal organization
in court.

"We need to get on that. We need to find ways of making that happen,"
Farnworth said.
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