Extra RCMP resources deployed to Vernon after three shootings in the city

An officer blocks off a section of Pottery Road in Vernon following a shooting incident April 14, 2016.

VERNON - An escalation of violence in Vernon has the RCMP calling in additional resources.

Members of the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of B.C.’s uniform gang enforcement team will be coming to Vernon to assist local officers after a series of violent incidents, including three shootings since April, Sgt. Lindsey Houghton confirms.

“Our members do this regularly in communities around the province when there’s escalations in violence,” Houghton says.

The additional officers will assist general duty members and major crime investigators, Houghton says.

While police have said the upswing in violent incidents is believed to be targeted and related to the drug trade, they are not commenting on any possible gang affiliations. The incidents include bullets hitting a home on Pottery Road, a boy being sent to hospital with a gunshot wound, and a violent break and enter in Coldstream.

“Having two to three incidents like this in a short period of time I think concerns everybody, not just police but the community in general,” Houghton says.

While it’s common for the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit to be deployed to communities around B.C., it’s not every day they come to Vernon.

“From (our) perspective, we don’t, and haven’t, spent a lot of time in Vernon in the last number of years. Most of our investigative time has been spent in Kelowna and southern parts of the Okanagan,” Houghton says.

The rise in violent offences in the Vernon area comes on the heels of a shooting incident in Williams Lake and ongoing gun violence in Surrey.

“It would be fair to describe them (Williams Lake and Surrey) as hotspots. The term we can use is flare-ups in certain communities or regions,” Houghton says. “There are typically a couple of hotspots around the province.”

He adds it’s not unusual for activity to pick up in the spring and summer when better weather and longer days provide criminals with more opportunities to ply their trade.

Vernon RCMP have acknowledged drug trafficking is a problem in the city and say they are cracking down on street level dealers. As of late April, officers had arrested six individuals in five separate dial-a-dope investigations. The types of drugs seized included heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine.

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