There’s a new sheriff in town.
Surrey RCMP Sergeant Jet Sunner, who in April became Whalley’s community response team leader, recently shared his vision for policing with the Downtown Surrey Business Improvement Association.
Sunner has served with the RCMP for 24 years in Surrey, North Vancouver and Richmond. Before he was assigned to his latest post, he was the district commander for South Surrey.
Sunner said he aims to tackle “chronic-type” issues that general duty officers are sometimes too busy to deal with.
Sunner recalls patrolling Whalley and Guildford for eight years as a constable in the 1990s, running from call to call. It was very busy, he said.
“It’s even picked up from that, as far as the volume of calls that we get,” he said.
In his new capacity, Sunner said, he can make better use of analysts, and enjoys more access to other specialized policing teams. A recent review of the King George corridor, from 96th Avenue to 108th Avenue, he said, revealed “nuisance crime” is down 22 per cent compared to last year but it’s still high compared to elsewhere in the city.
Residential break-ins are up but business break-ins are down, he said, and police have recently made “quite a few” mugging arrests.
“A lot of times it’s young people; you know, things like stealing cell phones and that type of stuff,” Sunner said. “But to me that’s a big deal, and that’s where it starts, with the young people.”
Traffic safety is among Whalley’s ongoing concerns, he said. Distracted driving continues to be a big problem.
“Pedestrian safety is a big one. That is probably the number one way that you are going to get hurt… There are people sitting there texting and they’ll go right through a red light, and they have no idea that they just did that. When you’re in the car, you gotta learn to turn that thing off.”
Sunner said the number of heroin and fentanyl overdoses in Whalley also continues to be high and said police need to apply consistent pressure on drug dealers.
“We need to separate the good guys from the bad guys, and what I mean is, the dealers,” he said.
“We can’t have any sympathy for people that are dealing drugs. We can’t have any open drug dealing, and things like needles and stuff like that, we’ve got to have a zero tolerance toward that type of behaviour.
“When we find out the true victims, it will be a lot easier to help them. Like right now if we’re dealing with let’s say a thousand people, we don’t know who’s coming, who’s going, who’s the dealer, who’s got the mental illness issues, who the elderly are, who the youth are, and how do we help them. We need to separate that.
“It’s quite obvious when they’re dealing drugs, you know, the way they’re dressed, and they don’t belong on the strip.”
Sunner said he’s telling the police officers he supervises to “be sympathetic, but work hard. If we need to make the arrests, we need to do that. I’m a big believer in systems and rules and consistency.”
Sunner said he’s not interested in merely pushing problems from one neighbourhood to the next and asked the business owners to not hesitate to report problems to police.
“If it happens five times, call it five times,” he said. “I’m telling everyone to report everything…and if you’re not getting the service, call me.
“We can’t become complacent,” he said. “Please report the crime.”