(This column was published in the North Shore News on April 7, 1999)


Police sergeant says system has gone soft

By Leo Knight

A copy of a letter written to the Prime Minister, Premier Clark, Mayor Owen and the Immigration Minister was given to me recently.  


It's written by a Vancouver police sergeant, a veteran of nearly 30 years in the war on crime.  


It is, in part, a reflection on what he has seen in his career. But it is also an expression of the frustration he feels at the way the system has abjectly failed the citizens of our country.  


What follows are the words, not of an academic or a politically correct ivory tower resident, but of a street cop.  


I asked for, and received, his permission to share his thoughts with you.  


"I recently read an article in the Canadian Reader's Digest magazine that really impacted upon me just how much our country and my province have gone down hill. That this would reach print in this middle-of-the-road magazine is a strong indicator as to how low we have actually sunk.  


"The story involved young heroin-addicted persons from across the county, dying from overdoses or going through rehab in Port Moody B.C., a minuscule municipality about 30 km from the downtown drug-infested core of Vancouver.  


"The article outlines heroin usage by teens in high schools, devastated parents, deeply concerned teachers and police officials trying to deal with the problems of Asian drug traffickers in that tiny community.  


"I have been with the police for 28 years and during that period of time I have seen all sorts of changes to the City of Vancouver and none have been for the better. I can recall almost to the day when the first Uzi machine gun was found in Vancouver and it was in the hands of an alleged refugee.  


"I watched as the one-time drug trade controlled in the most part by Caucasians, mostly of Canadian birth, is now being controlled by the guests we welcomed into this country."  


"In the '80s, when I worked the drug squad in Vancouver, heroin traffickers were given five- to 10-year sentences and the street level trafficker was deathly afraid of the police.  


"Today traffickers see fines of less than $500 or probation as a standard and drug trafficking is so blatant that the police can't keep up with the number of on-sight deals being made on the streets let alone the phone trade and major importation purchases.


"I had 12 years on the job when Vancouver had its first drive-by shooting and since then we have gang murders in abundance. The deceased and the shooters are not, in the most part, of Canadian birth.  


"It is extremely difficult to write a letter of this nature without being politically incorrect. But the evidence is overwhelming that some of the alleged refugees from Honduras, Vietnam, India, China, El Salvador and other places of the world, including Russia and Iran, have set upon this country like jackals.  


"They have set up their own rules, their own methods of policing their criminal activities, and their own war zones, the likes of which the police of Canada have never seen before.  


"I see a great shame on this country, and in particular the government, in the manner in which we portray ourselves to be complete fools by allowing this catastrophe to continue.  


"The cost to the law-abiding citizens of Canada is tremendous to support the legal system and the police as well as the convicted refugee and his support group.  


"To what end?  


"It recycles. It keeps the 'system' alive and employed. And it takes huge amounts of money to operate. Taxpayers' money. Actually, my money! And I don't like the way it's being spent at all.  


"In British Columbia we support those whose choice in life is to be drug-addicted.  


"We supply them welfare, which goes to their drug supplier, medical programs and care, and free needles to inject their drug of choice.  


"B.C is even considering giving them warm indoor locations in which to inject themselves to get high to escape the world "they" made for themselves. This of course will increase the drug trade as more users come into Vancouver to be a part of yet another open-door, open-arm policy.  


"Personally, I don't want to pay to raise addicts or give them money for their drugs, or pay the healthy and able-bodied welfare to flop around coffee shops.  


"I don't want shooting galleries erupting like boils in neighbourhoods. I don't want to pay for a justice system out of control or judges with spines of tapioca and sugar plum thoughts of the purity of the law rather than common sense.  


"There just doesn't seem to be any responsibility or accountability taken on by these individuals for themselves, their actions or decisions. Everyone can't be a victim; there has to be a predator somewhere.  


"The answer to most of these problems exists in the Narcotic Control Act, Controlled Substance Act, Criminal Code and Immigration Act.  


"If utilized properly, without searching for excuses not to incarcerate or deport, and all the other associated nonsense, this country could probably slowly start to turn around.  


"More prisons may have to be a reality until it does. This goes against the grain of the B.C. and Canadian governments but look what they have created with their ideologies.  


"I can only say to you, and the good citizens of this country, that I've been there to observe it. I've had 28 years of watching the system make excuses for itself and excusing criminal activities of people whose choice it is to use drugs and commit crimes. Very few occasions have I seen it stand up for sound community traditions and good old-fashioned common sense.  


"Sometimes, in the past, a trip to the woodshed was necessary to square away a runaway attitude. I think that's what may have prevented quite a few of these ne'er-do-wells from the path they chose. It did with me.  


"Maybe it's something both governments need now to shock reality back into their airy-fairy values."  


The letter is signed by Al Robson, a Vancouver Police Department sergeant.  


I suggest you read it again.





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