Vancouver police plan Downtown Eastside crackdown ahead of Olympics

With the Olympics just a little over a year away, the Vancouver Police Department unveils today (January 21) its draft business plan for 2009, which would see additional cops, more street spot checks, and more bylaw-violation tickets issued in the Downtown Eastside.

The plan will be presented at a meeting of the Vancouver police board chaired by Mayor Gregor Robertson.

It states that “in 2009 the VPD will introduce a new strategy aimed at reducing street disorder by increasing the number of members in the Downtown Eastside (DTES) on the Beat Enforcement Teams (BET), and increasing the time these members spend curbing and deterring disorder on the street in this area”.

The plan goes on: “This strategy will be accomplished in part by a directive for increased discretion with regards to arresting and charging individuals for simple drug possession in this area.

“By placing the priority on seizing drugs rather than officially prosecuting the offenders for lower-level drug possession offences, VPD members will avoid the necessity of spending the majority of their shift filling out lengthy paperwork which effectively removes their presence on the street for several hours at a time.

“With more officers being dedicated to the area, and more of their shift spent enforcing the law on the street, the disorder and offending associated with this area will decrease, increasing the quality of life and safety for all residents and visitors in the area.”

One of the plan’s strategies involves the increased use of city bylaws “for disorder offences”.

There will also be an “increased involvement in service of summons for chronic disorder related bylaw offenders; and increased usage of the Safe Streets and Trespass Acts”.

The plan’s targets include a “minimum of 4 street checks per BET member per block”.

The VPD also wants to eradicate “street vending in the BET catchment area by the end of 2009”.

In a phone interview, VPD spokesperson Constable Tim Fanning said that potential criticisms of the plan from Downtown Eastside activists are “nothing new”.

“One of the goals of the department for years has been to work on street disorder because people down there want to feel safe,” Fanning told the Straight.

“There’s a lot of people that live in the Downtown Eastside that aren’t addicted to crack that aren’t on the streets all the time. Those are the people that appreciate a police presence,” he said.

“We get more support from the community than criticisms because...a lot of people that we talk to that live down there, residents as well as businesses, people do not feel safe when there’s a large amount of street disorder going on,” Fanning added.




Jan 21, 2009 at 1:33pm

I think that its a good idea to clean up the area, but at the expense of the people. I find that the police base their actions on what someone looks like. You as the people of the area and the police force, must make sure that this "clean up" of the area doesn't mean disrespecting the natives of the area. To say it in two words, be respectful.


Jan 21, 2009 at 8:35pm

I live in the DTES area, and I would be VERY HAPPY to see this cleanup take place. Those of us who live here, pay rent and work hard for a living are sick and tired of having our neighbourhood turned into the Land of the Walking Dead every night.

I've been assaulted, spit on, had things thrown at me, etc., by these degenerates running around with needles hanging out of their arms while shitting and pissing on sidewalks and in the doorways of people's homes. They also rob people and break into cars and apartments, stealing people's belongings for their daily fix. They don't deserve ANY respect!

Why is it always the bleeding hearts who don't live in this part of the city that want to stop the police from cleaning up this Calcutta Hell Hole? If it means putting them all on a bus to some run-down Gregor Shelter in Kamloops, I say go for it!


Jan 31, 2009 at 11:52pm

I love that this article makes this 'clean up' sound like a good thing. The average reader might be lead to think this. Ticketing, arresting, harrassing, seizing and searching people based on the fact that they look like an addicted or a homeless person should easily classify as discrimination. The APC is correct to say that this is an 'attack on the poor'. If the mayor was really wanting to make this social issue better he would spend that same money of the VPD's wages (+$75,000 a year/ police officer) and put it into street services. Studies and experiments have shown that working at the core of the issue is far more effective than just arresting everyone who doesn't live up to our social acceptance standards (nor does shipping them off to another city). Another Olympic dream come true.....
Maybe instead of complaining, people could advocate together to create social change, or work with the people they detest so much and understand a little about this issue.
~A Social Worker, FROM KAMLOOPS!!


Oct 19, 2009 at 7:51am

I've recently had the unfortunate experiance of becomming homeless.And I have found that people look down on the homeless.Not a plesant experiance.Thank God I don't live their it's bad enough without being haressed by police. where does protect and serve come in the picture?Not all those homeless are druggies and drunks.Some like my husband and I lost jobs so therefore became homeless.
A well educated jobless HUMAN!


Nov 5, 2009 at 10:31pm

What a surprise. People in Vancouver are against cleaning up the homeless problem.


Nov 7, 2009 at 8:06pm

if you spend all your money on crack yes you are poor.....bad choices ...poor lifestyle

local dtes

Jan 10, 2010 at 9:14am

just around the corner from my home crack dealers own the corner, laffing and kidding around with there buddies ...why month after month the same guys are out there takeing in the profits and disturbing the peace .i see the cops jacking up the addics but these guys are left alone what the hell is going on?