Working to end gang life

At the annual Central Okanagan Crime Stoppers appreciation lunch Thursday, a prominent B.C. police officer shared her passion – ending gang life. 

Sgt. Brenda Winpenny, community relations with the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of British Columbia, told the assembled police officers, politicians and members of Crime Stoppers about the CFSEU's End Gang Life program

The program, which began in 2013, looks to educate young people in the province about the dangers of joining gangs.

In the past two years, CFSEU members have spoken to 60,000 students at 150 schools across B.C.

Sgt. Winpenny showed several End Gang Life advertisements they've used to promote their message, including one that was based on real-life events.

“We got a call from a school teacher who was calling us in a panic because a 12 year old at the school actually came to her and ratted out the 10 year old because the 10 year old approached him asking to sell drugs, because he knew (the 12 year old) was selling drugs,” Sgt. Winpenny said, adding the 12 year old had been dealing cocaine.

“This is actually what's going on.”

In her presentation, she touched on the gang violence that has led to dozens of deaths in the Lower Mainland over the past several years, which began as the “Townline Hill conflict” in Abbotsford.

“The gangs are so loosely connected and the alliances and allegiances are changing all the time ... really, it's far reaching, it involves the entire province and even nationally,” Sgt. Winpenny said.

“As we know locally here when we had the Bacon murder happen, what was happening at that time is that some of the prominent members from various gangs were coming together to join and collaborate to form these sorts of power blocks with the goal in mind to become those power blocks that make the most money.”

Last May, three of the men involved in the 2011 Jonathan Bacon pleaded guilty to being involved in the gangland shooting.

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