Abbotsford Police Chief Mike Serr (left), on stage with Insp. Casey Vinet, addresses the crowd during the “Crime is Toast – Breakfast with the Chief” event on Wednesday morning (Oct. 5) at Tradex. (Dale Klippenstein/Abbotsford Police Department)

Abbotsford Police Chief Mike Serr (left), on stage with Insp. Casey Vinet, addresses the crowd during the “Crime is Toast – Breakfast with the Chief” event on Wednesday morning (Oct. 5) at Tradex. (Dale Klippenstein/Abbotsford Police Department)

Abbotsford Police chief addresses repeat offenders, violent crime and more

Annual Crime is Toast Breakfast held Wednesday morning at Tradex

Abbotsford Police Chief Mike Serr addressed topics such as violent crime, prolific offenders and traffic safety during the eighth annual “Crime is Toast – Breakfast with the Chief” event Wednesday morning (Oct. 5).

The event, held at Tradex, was hosted by the Abbotsford Police Foundation in support of initiatives not covered by the Abbotsford Police Department’s (APD) operating budget.

In a question-and-answer period with Serr and Insp. Casey Vinet, Serr said one of the biggest issues the community faces is prolific offenders – identified as those who have more than 10 criminal convictions.

Serr said officers are “super frustrated” with arresting repeat offenders only to have them released back into the community to commit more crimes.

ALSO SEE: ‘Prolific offender’ in Abbotsford had knives and loaded shotgun, say police

“They put our community in harm’s way despite multiple arrests and multiple charges, and they’re out in the street before our members have even finished the paperwork. Bluntly, I’m mad about it,” he said.

Serr said part of the solution involves finding “different pathways” for individuals to get the support they need, such as for addictions or mental health.

But there will always be people who don’t want the help, he said. In those cases, having them remain in custody keeps the community safe, and that requires more support at the provincial and federal levels, Serr said.

“What I care the most about is I do not want to see somebody out there who potentially could harm our community because they refuse to follow a release order or anything else.”

Serr said one of the main issues for which the APD receives public feedback is traffic enforcement and road safety.

He said the department has faced some staffing issues in recent years – some related to officers retiring – resulting in a decline in the issuing of traffic tickets.

RELATED: Officers have worked ‘incredibly hard’ to tackle gang issues, says Abbotsford Police chief

“But I can tell you that every day and every week we prioritize traffic enforcement based on the problem areas … We know where the problem areas are,” he said.

Serr said one of the priorities of APD senior leadership is to rebuild the traffic teams.

He said a road-safety issue that has seen increased numbers is impaired driving. To date this year, there have been 100 more impaired-driving offences than for the same period in 2021.

“I hate to say it, but we are seeing more and more impaired drivers on our streets every day, and that is the biggest risk to every single person in this community,” Serr said.

He also addressed the issue of violent crime. He said, although Abbotsford’s rate has increased by 3.4 per cent over 2021, the city has the lowest violent-crime rate compared to surrounding Fraser Valley communities.

But it has been a “difficult year” for homicides, he conceded. The city has recorded eight so far this year – the highest number since 2017, when there were 10.

RELATED: Abbotsford-Mission records same number of killings as 2008 ‘murder capital’ stats

He said three of this year’s murders have been solved, although charges have only been publicly announced in one – the July 28th killing of Kamaljit Sandu, whose husband Inderjit Sandhu has been charged with first-degree murder.

Serr said the bulk of offences committed in Abbotsford relates to property crime. He said the city has seen a decline of 2.4 per cent in such crimes in the last three years, and the APD would like to see that number drop even more.

Only Maple Ridge has a lower rate, Serr said.

“We will get it back because we want to be the safest city in British Columbia,” he said.

Projects supported in the past by funds raised at the event have included a John Deere “Gator” ATV, armoured vest for police dogs, the restoration of a vintage police cruiser, and a drone for use in investigations such as homicides and car crashes.



vhopes@abbynews.com

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