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Op/Ed: Working to make our communities safer

John Horgan
By John Horgan
March 11th, 2019

Everyone deserves to feel safe where they live. From action to deal with guns and gangs and organized crime, to more support for programs that prevent and reduce crime, our government is working to make communities safer for all British Columbians.

This week, we introduced timely changes to our civil forfeiture law, to better address the current realities of gang and organized crime. The changes are about shifting the onus to the defendant to prove an asset isn’t a tool or proceed of crime and addressing the impact of instantaneous wealth transfer beyond B.C.’s borders.

By maintaining the fairness of the civil forfeiture process, but enhancing its efficiency and cost-effectiveness, we’ll maximize the proceeds available to support community safety programs through our annual grants.

Tackling gang violence an organized crime requires strong, strategic prevention, intervention and enforcement efforts, and different levels of government and law enforcement working together.

We’re working with the federal government to stop gun and gang violence in our communities. The Government of Canada recently announced an investment of $5.3 million to support initiatives aimed at preventing and intervening in local gang activity in communities struggling with crime.

This funding is on top of provincial and federal government investments to support community-based gang prevention and intervention programs, and work to give police in B.C. the tools they need to disrupt organized crime groups.

One of our early actions as government was to deliver $500,000 in stable, secure funding to the successful Surrey Wrap program to prevent at-risk youth from entering gang life, because keeping young people out of gangs saves lives and makes our communities safer. This funding allowed the program to obtain the staff resources and supports needed to help alleviate waitlist issues and serve more young people.

We’ve provided $1.12 million in additional funding to expand the provincial Expect Respect and a Safe Education (ERASE) program to include training for school staff, parents and youth to prevent and respond to safety issues involving gang-related behaviour, guns and illicit drug use.

We’re also investing in the End Gang Life program, that supports local police officers who work to dispel myths about gang life and steer young people toward crime-free futures. As part of this, the B.C. government’s Civil Forfeiture Office recently supplied a fortified SUV to the Surrey RCMP’s Gang Enforcement Team (SGET) to carry anti-gang images. The Range Rover is the 23rd forfeited vehicle that the Province has made available to B.C. police and domestic violence agencies to aid in local community engagement and crime prevention.

Everyone deserves to be safe where they live, work, and raise their families. We’re going to keep working hard with law enforcement, and different levels of government, to tackle organized crime and make our communities safer.

John Horgan is the 36th and current premier of British Columbia since July 2017. He has been leader of the British Columbia New Democratic Party since 2014, and MLA for the constituency of Langford-Juan de Fuca and its predecessors since 2005.

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