Image from video message for gangsters and their families from B.C.'s anti-gang task force.

Police campaign plays guilt card on gangsters

Posters, videos of grieving kids rolled out by B.C.'s anti-gang task force



In a new bid to shatter B.C.’s gang culture, police are now targeting what they think is the soft underbelly of hardened gangsters – their guilt at the anguish they may cause loved ones if they die.

Posters, videos and radio messages released Wednesday depict grieving children at the graves of gunned-down gangsters, including a tiny blonde girl leaving behind a card that says “I miss you Daddy.”

It ends with the tag line “Wouldn’t you rather she look up to you?”

One video shows a girl sitting on a swing above the covered corpse of her gangster father.

The campaign dubbed End Gang Life, complete with a website at endganglife.ca, is the latest brainchild of Sgt. Lindsey Houghton of the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of B.C. (CFSEU).

Officers with the anti-gang unit say violent criminals have no fear of jail nor often their own death, but may be swayed at the thought of causing pain to those they love.

A quarter of gang-related murder victims in the past eight years were parents, Houghton said.

“No child should have to grow up without their parents because of gangs and organized crime.”

It’s no coincidence the campaign is rolling out just before Christmas.

“We know that families and friends gather during this season,” said Chief Supt. Dan Malo, the CFSEU’s head. “We hope that this campaign will spark some conversations between families, between friends, between siblings – people pulling towards this lifestyle.”

Malo said CFSEU officers have underscored the campaign message by visiting several known prolific violent gangsters this week to warn them that they will be relentlessly targeted by police until they leave the gang life.

Academics, other experts and ex-gang members helped devise the emotionally charged messages.

Malo rejected suggestions that some gangsters leaving the lifestyle simply make room for new recruits, drawn by easy money, as long as drug prohibition exists.

“Gang lifestyle is a behaviour,” he said, adding a focus on changing that behaviour will be more productive than debates about the supply of drugs.

Malo said the campaign is not a response to the record number of murders in Surrey – 23 so far this year.

He didn’t have statistics on gang-related homicides across the Lower Mainland, but said gang violence is “heading towards historical lows” compared to the spike in gangland mayhem of 2007-2008.

Justice Minister Suzanne Anton said she doesn’t read too much into the jump in murders in Surrey or focus on city-by-city statistics.

“It could be Surrey one year and another place the next,” she said, adding the issue has to be considered regionally.

“The crime rate is at a historic low,” Anton added.

The CFSEU plans to roll out new posters and other media every four months over two years.

Anton urged caring family and friends to press the gangsters to leave the lifestyle.

“Let’s have families tell their gang members to get out of there. You get killed, you leave behind your family, you leave behind the people who love you.”

Just Posted

PHOTOS: Vancouver Island MusicFest revisited

This year’s lineup included Colin James, Tom Cochrane and lots more

Peninsula Co-op hosting matching gift campaign for BC Cancer Foundation

Company will match donations up to $75,000 for Vancouver Island residents battling cancer

Comox Valley military museum could be closed for a couple of months

HMCS Alberni site suffered water damage during a recent downpour

Injured humpback returns to waters off Comox a year later

Photographer spotted Ocular again and noticed the whale has been healing

Feds lowered poverty line, reducing the number of seniors in need: documents

Liberals introduced a poverty line that was below the prior low-income cutoff

$900M settlement reached in class action on sexual misconduct in Canadian military

After facing criticism, the government moved to begin settlement proceedings in early 2018

Tax take stays ahead of increased B.C. government spending

Tax revenue $2.1 billion higher than budget in 2018-19

Two toddler siblings found drowned on First Nation in Alberta

The siblings were found drowned on their family’s property, according to RCMP

Chiefs honour Indigenous leader wrongfully hanged in B.C. 154 years ago today

Chief Joe Alphonse says they want his remains returned to his homeland in B.C.’s Cariboo region

B.C. government seeks advice on reviving Interior forest industry

Public website opens as meetings start with community leaders

Film features Chez Monique, an off-the-grid restaurant on West Coast Trail in B.C.

“The story we are trying to share is of the loving haven they created and sustained for decades.”

Psychics, drones being used to search for missing Chilliwack woman with dementia

Drones, psychics, dogs and more have been employed to help find Grace Baranyk, 86

Most Read