Surrey RCMP tweak tactics every year to keep Vaisakhi parade safe, peaceful

Published: April 18, 2013
Surrey RCMP

Surrey RCMP will be out in full force at Saturday’s Vaisakhi parade in Surrey, B.C. Arlen Redekop/PNG

LARISSA CAHUTE
VANCOUVER DESI

Surrey RCMP “tweak” their policing plans for Vaisakhi every year in light of tragedies that happen around the world — including at Monday’s Boston Marathon.

“We’re adjusting our tactics just to ensure that we keep this event as safe and as peaceful as possible,” said Surrey RCMP spokesman Drew Grainger. “We already have these plans in place — we prepare for contingencies that may happen in a tragic incident that we saw happen in Boston,” he added, referring to the twin explosions that tore through the annual Boston Marathon killing three people and injuring more than 180.

“It’s not just the Boston Marathon — it’s events around the world,” said Grainger. “In the world that we live in now, it’s unfortunate that we have to keep things in mind … more in mind now than ever before — about people who like to send a message, or do harm, or create some chaos in these events where we see tens of thousands of people descend on an area.”

So at Saturday’s Vaisakhi parade, Surrey RCMP will be out in full force monitoring the event that saw about 200,000 people attend last year.

“It’s been a significant event in the city of Surrey — it’s grown exponentially over the years,” said Grainger. “It’s a challenge for us as a police department to manage that many people coming into the area to ensure their public safety.”

With the event happening in the heart of the city, Grainger said “a very comprehensive operational plan” is in place, which gets “tweaked every year.”

“When it comes to events like Vaisakhi – it’s just one of those events that is recognized internationally,” he said. “It’s the second largest – second only to those celebrations that happen in India – so it’s very well-known and a well-revered event.

“There’s protocols in place at the local, provincial, federal and international level.”

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In light of the Boston tragedy, Surrey RCMP have been in touch with the “intelligence community” — letting them know the popular event is taking place and checking to see if there’s any potential danger.

“It’s our duty to make those connections,” said Grainger. “Now is the time more than ever for that information sharing to happen.”

The annual Vaisakhi parade celebrates the Punjab harvest time, but also the birth day of Sikhs, which dates back to 1699. Each year they mark the day with a parade and other festivities, including a carnival, free food and song and dance performances.

The parade kicks off at 9:30 a.m. at the Gurdwara Dashmesh Darbar temple on 85th Avenue, heads south on 128th Street, west on 82 Avenue, back down south on 124 Avenue, and then east on 76th Avenue before returning north up 128 Avenue and back to the temple.

Surrey RCMP are reminding the public to be aware of road closures along the route Saturday as well as reminding parents to be mindful of their children, as they responded to more than 60 incidents of missing children at last year’s Vaisakhi parade.

They suggest parents plan a designated meeting place for the family, point out the RCMP’s missing children’s tent, ensure kids’ have identification and to have a current photo of their child just in case.

lcahute@theprovince.com
twitter.com/larissacahute

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