Nearly 50 police officers have been redeployed to the Surrey communities of Newton and Whalley in the month since Mayor Dianne Watts established a task force to crack down on the city’s record number of homicides.
Among other updates since the creation of the task force: eight search warrants have been executed on drug houses, 11 drug traffickers have been arrested and six vehicles seized, according to the city of Surrey. In all, police arrested 45 people for a variety of reasons, including contravention of the Criminal Code and Drug and Substance Act
Regarding Newton Town Centre, where resident and mother of three Julie Paskall was fatally assaulted last week in what police call a random and unprovoked attack, the city says it has analyzed the facility and reviewed lighting and sight lines. Security – including community safety officers and foot patrols – has increased and authorities are reviewing closed-circuit TV footage from the area, according to the city. As well, it said heritage trees, and a forested area behind Newton Arena, will have to be cut down to open the area.
Police have not yet identified a suspect in Ms. Paskall’s murder.
Surrey ended 2013 with the dubious distinction of having a record number of homicides. The New Year’s Eve death of Ms. Paskall, believed to have been a victim of a robbery gone sideways, brought the toll to 25. The city said 18 of those victims were involved in drug or gang activity, three were the victims of domestic violence and four were “not involved in high risk lifestyle.”
The task force comprises Surrey RCMP, Surrey by-law officers, Surrey firefighters, a criminologist and members of the RCMP’s E-Division.