Just a few short years ago, Abbotsford held the acutely uncomfortable title of “Murder Capital of Canada,” as dubbed by metro media.
Unflattering to say the least, but fairly close to the mark.
Gang-related warfare was raging around the Lower Mainland in 2008 through 2010, and Abbotsford was unfortunately a focal point, as the Red Scorpions, the UN gang, and others struggled for domination – primarily of the drug trade.
The Abbotsford-Mission census metropolitan area (CMA) experienced four murders in 2010, 11 in 2009 and six in 2008.
Compare that to last year’s one – which occurred inside a local prison.
We are now among the 10 Canadian cities with the lowest murder rates.
It’s a stunning turnaround. The key factor? The Abbotsford Police.
The force has taken back the streets, through a multi-pronged approach of enforcement, arrests, surveillance, and pressure tactics on known criminals, and a comprehensive program of awareness and education in local schools.
The department set out to make Abbotsford an unpleasant place for gangsters and drug dealers to do business. They achieved it.
Officers visited schools, talking with students and presenting a series of top-quality videos that exposed the gangster lifestyle as one that usually ends in prison or death.
Clearly, all of these efforts were effective.
During the same period, police arrested two of Abbotsford’s notorious Bacon brothers – both of whom are now in prison, either convicted of serious crimes or awaiting trial. A third was shot dead by rivals.
Criminal volatility still exists here, but nevertheless, Abbotsford is a far safer place. Other cities that are still struggling with violence should take a page or two from the APD manual.