Contact 604-560-2285
Toll Free 1-855-677-3720

Subscribe to our mailing list

12th Annual Gangs & Guns Training Symposium

 Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre 1088 Burrard Street Vancouver V6Z 2R9 BC Canada

FEB. 13, 2020 Networking Event 4:30pm to 7:00pm

*Pre-Training  Feb 12 Day only eligible if you purchase this 2- day Gangs & Guns Symposium.

FEB. 13 & 14, 2020 Gangs & Guns Training Symposium

*Purchase 5 full rate tickets from the same agency and receive the 6th ticket complimentary

Student Rate                             $275.00 + 5% (13.75) = $288.75
Full Rate                                   $550.00 + 5% (27.50) = $577.50

Cancellation Details:

All cancellations must be submitted by email by Jan. 13, 2020 and will be subject to a $50.00 administration fee.

No refunds will be given for cancellations made after Jan. 13, 2020 however you are invited to send a replacement at no extra cost provided you notify Safer Schools Together of the name substitution by Jan. 30, 2020.  After Jan. 30, 2020 name substitutions will be subject to a $25.00 administration fee.

It is the sole responsibility of the delegate to cancel any room reservations made with the hotel.

Refunds will not be provided for registrants who fail to attend the conference or a portion of the conference.

Vancouver Marriott Pinnacle Downtown

Address1128 W Hastings St, Vancouver, BC V6E 4R5

Marriott’s Reservations toll free number 1 800 207 4150


Parking Details:

Impark parking available at hotel site.

Parking on P3 and P4

Early Bird Rate: $16.00 for entrance between 5:00am and 9:30am, and ends at 6:00pm

Evening Rate: $7.50 for 6:00pm to 1:00am

Overnight rate: $36.50


Networking – February 13, 2020 – 4:30pm to 6:30pm

Please note the Networking Event will be held at Vista 360 in the Harbourfront Pinnacle.  (This is directly across the street from the main entrance into the Vancouver Marriott Pinnacle Downtown (our venue hotel).

Presenter Bios:

February 13th 2020

Staff Sgt. Lindsey Houghton

‘Current Gang Landscape’

CFSEU-BC  Staff Sergeant Lindsey Houghton will update attendees on the current state of the British Columbia gang landscape, speak about the uniqueness of it and the challenges policing it on a provincial scale.


Staff Sgt. Lindsey Houghton

A former member of the Vancouver Police Department and the Department’s spokesperson, Staff Sergeant Lindsey Houghton is a member of the Organized Crime Agency of BC and the Executive Officer to the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of British Columbia’s Chief Officer.

The recipient of several community and policing awards, Staff Sergeant Houghton has continually sought new and innovative ways to promote positive policing initiatives, crime prevention strategies, and engage the public. This includes being the creator and architect of the CFSEU-BC’s End Gang Life ( gang prevention, education, and awareness initiative.

Staff Sergeant Houghton oversees the CFSEU-BC’s Community & Public Affairs and Gang Intervention and Outreach teams, as well as its Strategic Research Office.


Father Gregory Boyle

‘Barking to the Choir: The Power of Radical Kinship’

Father Boyle will share how compassion, kindness, and kinship are the tools to fight despair and decrease marginalization.  Through his stories and parables, all will be reminded that no life is less valuable than another.

Bio: Gregory Boyle is the founder of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, Calif., the largest gang intervention, rehabilitation, and re-entry program in the world.  A Jesuit priest, from 1986 to 1992 Father Boyle served as pastor of Dolores Mission Church, then the poorest Catholic parish in Los Angeles that also had the highest concentration of gang activity in the city.   Father Boyle witnessed the devastating impact of gang violence on his community during the so-called “decade of death” that began in the late 1980’s and peaked at 1,000 gang-related killings in 1992.  In the face of law enforcement tactics and criminal justice policies of suppression and mass incarceration as the means to end gang violence, Father Boyle and parish and community members adopted what was a radical approach at the time: treat gang members as human beings.

In 1988 they started what would eventually become Homeboy Industries, which employs and trains former gang members in a range of social enterprises, as well as provides critical services to thousands of men and women who walk through its doors every year seeking a better life.

Father Boyle is the author of the 2010 New York Times-bestseller Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion.  His new book, Barking to the Choir: The Power of Radical Kinship, was published in 2017.   He has received the California Peace Prize and been inducted into the California Hall of Fame.  In 2014, the White House named Father Boyle a Champion of Change.  He received the University of Notre Dame’s 2017 Laetare Medal, the oldest honor given to American Catholics.

Byron Boston, CEO/Det. (Retired), Professional Law Enforcement Training (PLET) 

‘Challenges of Overdose Death Investigations’

Drug-related overdose deaths are increasing at an alarming rate across the North America.  From the opioid epidemic to the club drug crisis, communities are experiencing the deadly effects of illicit drugs.  Unfortunately, criminals that often supply the drugs that cause the overdoses, often evade prosecution.  This training will outline some of the key challenges investigators face when working overdose death cases.  An in-depth case study will be presented involving a long-term undercover operation that involved solving several overdose death cases as well as bringing a gang member to justice or pimping out young females.


Byron Boston served twenty (20) years with Dallas Police Department before retiring in May 2017.  He spent over fourteen (14) years in the Narcotics Division as an undercover officer.  For five (5) years, Byron was assigned to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) as a Task Force Officer (TFO) to investigate transnational criminal organizations impacting the Southwest Border of the United States.  These investigations involved drug trafficking, extortions, kidnappings, and homicides.

In 2009, while working in an undercover capacity, Byron and his partners were able to infiltrate a violent drug trafficking organization, posing as large-scale drug traffickers.  During their “initiation stages”, Byron and his partners were targets of the violence perpetrated by the gang members.  Firearms were repeatedly utilized and brandished by the gang members during undercover transactions, to intimidate Byron and his partners.  On each occasion, they utilized superior tactics and techniques to safely walk away from the dangerous situations they encountered.  Because of the two-year undercover operation, 28 violent gang members were removed from the community they preyed on.

In December of 2010, Byron was selected to join a Federal Task Force specifically designed to target Mexican Drug Trafficking organizations impacting the Southwest Border.  Over the past two years, this elite unit has seized over 100 kilograms of cocaine, 50 kilograms of methamphetamine ICE.  They have also seized over two million dollars of U.S. currency & Assets.  Most importantly, dozens of suspects directly linked to Mexican Drug Trafficking Organizations have been arrested, indicted, and convicted in the Dallas – Fort Worth area.  Based on debriefings of cooperating defendants, multiple wire intercepts, and undercover operations, Byron has learned the inner-workings and the structure of Mexican Cartels.

In 2014, the City of Dallas witnessed several drug-related overdose deaths involving North Texas teens.  Byron and his partner were tasked with conducting an undercover operation to target the sources of those narcotics. After using unconventional undercover techniques, Byron and his partner infiltrated several Rave/Club Drug organizations and arrest dozens of suspects responsible for the death of the teens.  Because of the investigation, Byron and his partner were nominated for Dallas Police Officer of the Year in July 2015.

Byron is currently a Reserve Dallas Police Officer, and remains active in investigating drug trafficking organizations at all levels.Byron’s unique police experiences have enabled him to teach both undercover officers and patrol officers on the most effective ways to target all levels of drug dealers. He is a certified law enforcement training instructor, and has presented training courses to thousands of military, federal, state, and local law enforcement officers in the United States & Canada with extremely high reviews.


Dr. Steven Sroka 

‘It’s All About Relationships’

Relationships may be the most important variable in effective school safety education. This motivational keynote explores the barriers and strategies to deal with the challenges of communication, collaboration, culture competency and caring.  Resiliency, mental health, ACE (adverse childhood experiences), TIC (trauma informed care), SEL (social emotional learning), BBL (brain based learning), stress management (mindfulness), motivation, storytelling, school climate and 10 lessons learned about school safety over 30 years will be examined. The program is filled with “tips from the trenches” to help you keep our students and staffs safe and healthy so they can learn more and live better. Dr. Stephen Sroka has spoken worldwide with The Power of One message, how one person can make a difference. Three years ago, Steve died while presenting a school in service. Two SROs, a principal and others saved his life and changed his message. He now talks about how you need The Power of Many, how it takes a team to make a lasting difference. Research based and reality· driven, this session offers honesty, humor, and hope. Facts without feelings are fruitless. It stresses the importance of passion, pride and persistence. This keynote will warm your heart, stir your soul and ignite a fire in your brain. It has been said that it can even change your life professionally and personally. Let’s see if it can spark the fire within you.


“Boy is retarded,” reads the top of Dr. Stephen Sroka’s third-grade report card. In ES, he was mocked for having a crossed eye and a speech impediment. He was crippled in a HS fight.  Doctors said,” listen to your teachers.” The more he listened, the smarter the teachers became. His HS counselor told him that he didn’t have the IQ to go to college, but he didn’t know that Steve had the I WILL. He learned to live with the gifts of ADHD and dyslexia. His struggles to become a teacher made him a better teacher. He went from the “projects” to being inducted into the National Teachers Hall of Fame. He was awarded The Walt Disney American Outstanding Teacher of Health and Physical Education, and has been on Oprah and covered in USA TODAY. He is an Adjunct Assistant Professor, School of Medicine, Case Western Reserve University, and President of his company, Health Education Consultants. He has taught in schools, including urban and on Native American reservations, worldwide for over 30 years.

Dr. Sroka received the Outstanding School Health Educator Award from the American School Health Association. Recently, he was named the Person of the Year for The International Association for Truancy and Dropout Prevention and received the first ever School Health Leader Award from the American Public Health Association. But his most meaningful “award” was his then six-year-old daughter telling him that he was smarter than the cartoon character, Inspector Gadget. Obviously, his wife does not agree.  He travels the world striving to reach, elevate and inspire with The Power of One message. After a cardiac arrest, he realized that The Power of One was not enough. He needed The Power of Many. We all do. He always did, he just didn’t know it. He does now. He now believes that one person can make a lasting difference with the power of many, and that is why he is a teacher.

John Callery,  Special Agent in Charge, DEA, San Diego Field Division

‘Insights into Relevant and Current Law Enforcement Leadership Styles for 2020 and Beyond’ 

An interactive and realistic guide to how we can be better and more effective leaders during critical incidents and in our daily lives. This is not a theory class, this is a gathering of law enforcement professional’s minds for the betterment of all our agencies.

Bio: John Callery is the Assistant Special Agent in Charge (ASAC) of the DEA Honolulu District Office where he leads and manages DEA Operations on the Hawaiian Islands, Guam and Saipan. The Office is currently concentrating on the growing opioid threat, fentanyl laced heroin and the enduring scourge of methamphetamine trafficking in the region.

John has more than 35 years of law enforcement experience beginning as a Police Officer in the United States Air Force (USAF) where he was also detailed to the prestigious USAF Presidential Honor Guard at Bolling AFB, Washington, D.C., serving then President Ronald Reagan. John matriculated his law enforcement career as a DEA Special Agent in 1992, initially assigned to the DEA Los Angeles Field Division.

He is a professional trainer and has conducted hundreds of lectures around the globe on a myriad of law enforcement, intelligence and counter terrorism topics. Since 2010 he continues his support of the education safety industry as a means to foster relationships between academia and law enforcement for enhanced efforts in school safety.

John earned a Master’s of Science in Counterterrorism-WMD from the Rochester Institute of Technology and Bachelor of Arts degree in Public Administration from the University of Maryland. He also holds a Master Certificate in Conflict Management from the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza School of Business.


February 14th 2020


Cpl. David Lane, Human Trafficking Unit, Expert Witness Coordinator
Nova Scotia RCMP

‘Operation HELLBENDER: A Look Into the Domestic Sex Trade in North America’

In April 2016, H Division Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) began an intel probe to investigate the recruitment and trafficking of vulnerable high risk females into the sex trade by a well-known gang that operates all across Canada and the US. This gang is particularly known for the finesse they use in luring girls into the sex trade, as well as the extreme violence they will use to keep them there. One of the main objectives of Operation HELLBENDER was to determine the level of sophistication of this gang and how they operate in order to assess their threat to the North American public, as well as learn ways to disrupt them from luring and recruiting girls into the sex trade in the future. The file involved over 175 officers from across both countries. Investigators listened to thousands of wire tap intercepts in which female victims described their nightmare and saw no way out. They also captured the psychological manipulation that these traffickers utilized to control these victims. This rare insight into victim psychology was eye-opening for investigators and is invaluable knowledge for NGOs for future
targeted enforcement.

Bio: David Lane is a Corporal with the ‘H’ Division RCMP in Nova Scotia. He currently assigned to the Nova Scotia Human Trafficking Unit. He has been a member of the RCMP for 15 years all while serving the Halifax Regional Municipality and surrounding areas and has over 10 years working in specialized sections such as the Halifax Integrated Drug Unit, Federal Serious and Organized Crime and Guns and Gangs. Cpl. Lane’s expertise is in providing expert evidence. Cpl Lane has been qualified as an expert witness over 50 times on a wide range of criminal related
topics. He has testified in the capacity of a drug, gang and proceeds of crime expert in various levels of court in Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Ontario and Newfoundland & Labrador. In 2016, Cpl Lane was assigned as the primary investigator for Operation Hellbender. Originally, this file was supposed to take a maximum 4 months with 10 investigators. However, 2 years, 175 investigators and 6 Provinces later, Cpl Lane and his team learned the true nature of human trafficking in Canada – and it is disturbing.

Doug Spencer,  Retired Detective/Cst Vancouver Police Department. Currently Court Gang Expert, and a member of Odd Squad Productions doing Gang/Drug prevention work

“Gathering & Giving Expert Gang Evidence”

Learn how to gather evidence and prove in Court that a person is a gang member.  Assisting in bail hearings and sentencing gang members

Bio: Court Expert Evidence – Worked on gangs for the last  25 Plus years in the Lower mainland of BC

  • Recognized as a Gang Expert in BC Provincial and Supreme Courts
  • testified on over 150 occasions in gang-related trials in BC, Alberta, and Ontario
  • involved in over 1000 gang-related investigations, including shootings, extortions, kidnappings, robberies, home invasions, bawdy houses, drug trafficking, and weapons offences
  • involved in over 75 gang homicide investigations
  • provided voice and facial identification of known gang members on large, multi-jurisdictional files
  • executed dozens of informant-based search warrants resulting in the seizure of over 60 weapons and explosives, and multi-kilos of heroin, cocaine, marijuana, and ecstasy
  • solved 9 homicides in multiple jurisdictions through source info.


Gustavo Gutierrez, Policy Advisory, Indigenous Justice Division (Ministry of Attorney General)

‘His Story: My life as Investigator’

Growing up in a border town, it was like been living in two different cultures but amalgamated in one city.

I started at the academy and graduated after 6 months; My first assignment was a joining task force to patrol the city, this joining task force consisted of municipal, police state police and federal police.  Later I was transferred to a K9 unit and started to train for two months, I got sick and did not complete the training and I was assigned to Homicides. First, I was assigned to work the night shift, when a homicide occurred I attended the crime scene and initiated the investigation, then move to a day shift and two years later transferred to a special unit, Homicides against Female unit, task force consisted with Investigators, prosecutors and crime lab specialist.

I joined the SWAT team during the training events and then started to join them in special operations, rescue kidnapped persons, search warrants and inmates’ transfers. We support in prison riots, and eventually be on charge on some decisions in prison riots.

In 2005 I was promoted as coordinator of the SWAT team (EPPE). While continued working as Homicide investigator. In 2007 I was promoted to a special group working in high profile cold cases and prepared reports for the lnter-American Court.  In October 2007, I was promoted as coordinator of the special group of Homicide against Females.

In May 2008 after receiving death threats I fled the state of Chihuahua and remained in a western state in Mexico.  Eventually when my family received more threats I decided to leave the country and emigrated to Canada.

Starting to work as security guard, then after completed one-year training course for mental health professionals I started to work in a probation office, first as a support staff and then as a probation and parole officer. In 2017 I was invited to work in the MMIWG team at the Ministry of Attorney General of Ontario where I continue to work.


Born in Mexicali Baja California Mexico, border town with Calexico, California, USA. Grew up and raised in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua Mexico, border town with El Paso, Texas, USA.

Worked in the Department of Justice, Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico from 1999 to 2008.  In 2000 started to work in the Homicides department.  By 2002 assigned to the Homicides against Females unit.  Joined the SWAT team in 2003 while continuing the homicides investigations; in May 2005 promoted to Coordinator of the SWAT Team until October 2006. In October 2007 promoted to Coordinator of the Homicides against Female’s department. By 2008 I was promoted Acting Regional Coordinator of Chihuahua’s North Zone.

Acquired a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the Centro Universitario de Ciudad Juarez in 2005.  In 2007 I received award from the Governor of Chihuahua in recognition of successfully closed cases. I receive this recognition when I was in the swat team (EPEE, Equipo de Proyectos Especiales del Estado).  From 2001 until 2007 completed training in Ex. Crimes scene techniques, Handling evidence, etc.

Volunteer in the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional services from 2011 to 2014.

Started to work in the probation office in September 2014 until October 2017.  Working for the Ministry of Attorney General at the Indigenous Justice Division since October 2017 until present.

Det. Sandy Avelar & Det. Anisha Parhar, Vancouver Police Department

‘Her Time’

Detective Avelar and Detective Parhar will present on a new and innovative program geared toward steering young women away from the gang lifestyle as either participants and/or knowing bystanders. They utilize real like examples of this program and how women can easily be drawn willingly or unwillingly into this dangerous lifestyle.



Detective Sandy Avelar

Detective Sandy Avelar has served for over 20 years with the Vancouver Police Department, including tours in vice and the organized crime section gang crime unit. she has extensive operational experience and serves as a tactical advisor for her agency. Sandy has devoted the majority of her career to youth and gang work and sits on the Board of Directors for the Boys Club Network. Sandy has specialized training from the National Gang Crime Research Centre In Chicago in international and transnational gang problems and gang prevention skills, while also presenting at the center. She is also in graduate school, completing her thesis on gang wives and organized crime. Sandy is the co-founder of “Her Time”, an anti-gang initiative for females.

Detective Anisha Parhar

Detective Anisha Parhar is in her ninth year with the Vancouver Police Department. Anisha is currently working within the organized crime section gang crime unit and is actively involved in anti-gang initiatives. prior to policing, Anisha worked for the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of British Columbia, within the Covert Intelligence Section. Within the covert intelligence position, Anisha was exposed to multi- million-dollar organized crime files that reached national, cross border and international levels. she has since focused her career on organized crime and intelligence. Anisha is the co-founder of “Her Time”, an anti­gang initiative for females and has presented “her time” in a number of venues, including at the national gang crime research center’s annual conference in Chicago, Il.




Ticket Type Price Cart
Gangs & Guns Training Symposium 2020 - Feb. 13 & 14 - REGULAR FULL RATE $462.00 includes 5% GST on Canadian Events Only

Add to cart

Gangs & Guns Training Symposium 2020 - Feb. 13 & 14 - REGULAR STUDENT $231.00 includes 5% GST on Canadian Events Only

Add to cart