American guns, Canadian deaths
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He touted Abbotsford police's crime prevention strategy with reducing gun violence – something he hopes other municipalities can learn from.
“No city wants to be known as homicide capital of canada two years running,” he said. “2008 to 2009 definitely was a time we experienced an unacceptable amount of gang violence. It started us on a concerted effort to do something about it.”
That effort, he said, including holding public meetings in which the police admitted the situation was out of control.
“We gave a frank message to citizens – we told them we had a problem and needed their help,” he said. “Instead of going into denial or suggesting that our message was too harsh ... we didn't shy away from reality of what that meant.”
Claiming that 25,000 people attended a series of police presentations on gang-prevention and crime reduction – out of a total population of 137,000 – MacDonald said that ultimately working with the community helped reign in violence in Abbotsford.
“It's not as though drug consumers have left Abbotsford, or that drug dealers have left,” he said. “But we've made a concerted effort to suppress gang violence.”
Gun violence in the Lower Mainland made news recently after the Christmas Eve killing of Bradley McPherson, 28 in Surrey was followed by a string of daily shootings. In a series of apparently unrelated incidents, a 54-year old woman was hospitalized in Surrey after being shot in the chest. On December 25, shopkeeper Alok Gupta, 27, was killed in a robbery. The next day, Langley resident Jeremy Olivier Bettan, 38 was killed in a hail of bullets that Gordon said bears the mark of a “targeted hit.” On December 27, Apollo-Lyn Simpson, 28, was shot and killed in Surrey.
Other prominent deaths last year included Thuy Yen Vu, 38, in Vancouver, and Maple Batalia, 19, on Surrey's Simon Fraser University (SFU) campus.