Prime Time Crime

(Prime Time Crime exclusive June 22, 2009)

Total madness

By Bob Cooper



The Pivot Legal Society and the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users have complained about the Vancouver Police Department issuing tickets for various By-Law violations in the Downtown Eastside demanding that 1,000 plus tickets be withdrawn.  What they’re saying, in effect, is that the Downtown Eastside should be a ‘ticket free’ zone where folks can j-walk, spit, urinate, and generally do as they please.  Because they’re poor.

I mean, think about this for a second.  The Vancouver Police Department listening to demands (not requests, but demands) from the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users.  Why not the BC Association of Bank Robbers, the Shoplifters’ Union, or the Burglars’ Guild?  Perhaps the VPD would meet with them as well to see what their needs are.  You know, just to be inclusive and all.

Just when you thought this was bad enough, the story went on to say that instead of rejecting the premise outright, Chief Constable Jim Chu would give an answer in a month. The fact that this is even being considered is not only outrageous but confirms the fears I expressed in an earlier column concerning the politicization of the VPD by the Mayor and City Hall.  I should say increased politicization as it’s been slowly creeping in for years.

I’d caution the Chief here that his decision will have a far reaching effect on morale and his ability to lead.  He’s done very well up to now and maintained the support and confidence of the troops but knuckling under on this one could prove to be his legacy and it wouldn’t be a good one.  Several of the Chiefs I served under had a defining moment when an ill-chosen decision cost them that support and marked the end of their effective leadership, in some cases with pinpoint accuracy.  The lesson to be learned from the late 80s and the 90s is that once you give up ground it’s almost impossible to take it back.  Any concession made to these people only emboldens and legitimizes them and like any other extortionist, they’ll simply come back for more.  If that’s not enough, how is a cop ever going to write a ticket anywhere in this city again?

To liberals, the ‘broken windows theory’ is like scratching nails on a blackboard and they cringe at the mere mention of it.  They refuse to recognize that aside from the Riverview mental patients who were shipped down there by the Provincial Government, most of the people in the Downtown Eastside are there at least in part, due to choices they made.  It’s not that I don’t feel sorry for them, it’s just that I haven’t undergone the liberal brainwashing that absolves all designated ‘special people’ in society of any responsibility for their own actions.

The fact is, the ‘broken windows theory’ has been found to be most effective in reducing crime.  Look after the small stuff and the big stuff takes care of itself.  Lots of cops and arrests and summonses for all of the ‘quality of life’ violations that had been previously ignored.  It was how they cleaned up New York City in the 1990s and turned it from a lawless cesspool into one of the safest cities in the world.  Our city politicians ignore that piece of history and prefer instead to dole out our tax dollars to their friends in the poverty industry and pretend they’re accomplishing something.

A reader of one of the news stories on the ticket issue offered the following comment:

“I have an idea. Lets build a wall around the entire DTES and they can make up their own rules and have no cops. It would be a perfect society according to these groups. Once they've had enough and are willing to follow the laws they can leave and join the rest of society.”

I couldn’t have said it better.  Matter of fact, the idea has a certain appeal.

Prime Time Crime

Contributing 2009