The federal government has cut a $5.3-million cheque to the B.C. government to help reduce gun and gang violence in the province. The money is the first funding received by the province as part of the the federal Gun and Gang Violence Initiative Fund.
The funds are expected to be used for better data collection, identifying gang members and targeting responses in priority areas.
“In the nearly 40 years I served as a police officer, including 10 years as the chief of police in Toronto, I learned a comprehensive community approach that addresses the root causes of crime is essential to creating safe communities,” said Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction Minister Bill Blair. “In my experience, we can’t simply arrest our way out of rising crime.”
The province will receive the federal funding over the next two years.
In 2017, the provincial government released a report from a task force on illegal firearms. The government has still not been able to test all of the guns used in suspected crimes because of a lack of capacity in RCMP forensic labs.
Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth says some of the money from Ottawa will be used for analysis on recovered firearms suspected to have been involved in a crime.
“We are pleased Ottawa recognizes the devastating impact of this violence,” Farnworth said. “We will continue to pull out all the stops to identify bold new actions that can support our police, our justice systems, our schools and our communities in curbing the violence and saving young lives.
“We’re pleased that the federal government recognizes the devastating impact of gun and gang violence and is stepping up to help provinces in dealing with it — an important step to help tackle the violence that has been impacting communities across our nation,” the public safety minister continued.
“We’re making every effort to give police in B.C. the tools they need to disrupt organized crime groups while also supporting community-based prevention and intervention programs that focus on gang-involved individuals.”
In October 2017, Premier John Horgan also announced $31.3 million in public safety funding as part of a larger plan to address the opioid crisis. The funding included dedicated anti-trafficking teams within the provincial RCMP and Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit with additional officers and support staff.
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