‘Skids’ clean up needs support

I’m more than a little heartened to see Vancouver Police Inspector Bob Rolls talking tough about cleaning up the world’s largest open air drug bazaar, the Downtown Eastside. Or, as it was known when I walked a beat on its mean streets, ” The Skids.”
But talk is cheap. And the real test of this is whether the courts, the Crown and the Department itself, will withstand the inevitable pressure they will face as they proceed with their stated “zero tolerance” policy.
When I first set foot on the “beat” in the Skids it was a different job. In those days, in the early ’80s, the beat was a coveted job. It was only given to those officers who had proven themselves in patrol cars to have the right stuff.
In those days, the beat squad in the Skids was totally self-driven in terms of the work that was done. We weren’t responsible for radio calls and our work as part of the 12 man crew was totally self-generated. We went out and found the bad guys and put them in jail. In some ways it was a much more simple life. Within hours of a new guy arriving on the beat he was challenged. Not in the way the word is used today, but in the manner of the Wild, Wild West. To see how tough you were. One of the local street thugs would throw down the gauntlet and you either picked it up and hit him with it or you didn’t last for much longer on the beat. That was just the way it was.
But, in those days we ruled the streets. There was no such thing as junkies using in plain view or dealers advertising their lethal wares blatantly on every street corner. No, in those days the junkies and dealers hid from the police.

Then something went awry. Maybe it was when we started referring to the dealers, users, muggers, rapists, thieves and assorted buttheads as “clients.” Maybe it was when we started swallowing the so-called “Four Pillars” nonsense that allowed the assholes to take control of the streets.

But the bottom line is that we let the streets get away from us. And by us, I mean the police. And that is the essential question in the message being sent out by the VPD. Will the department back those officers who pick up the gauntlet and smack some Honduran crack dealer in the chops with it?

Because, like it or not, that is what is required. And PIVOT and VANDU need to be told that their bovine scatology is irrelevant. A junkie makes a choice and the result is not a “social issue” but a crime issue. And there’s the rub.

No one, as far as I can see, is prepared to tell these groups to get stuffed. And that will be an issue when VPD tries to clean the streets of the ubiquitous junkies and death dealers that have been given a free pass in the Skids over the past 10-15 years.

Leo Knight

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  1. Well said Leo. Someone needs to make the first stand against, as you so aptly put it, the “…dealers, users, muggers, rapists, thieves and assorted buttheads ” and I can only hope that Inspector Rolls can be that person. He should not only smack the idiots in the Skids who challenge law enforcement and feel that the streets are theirs but also the boneheaded officials who feel that rampant crime is a “social issue” and will be solved simply by “resoning” with some strung out moron.

  2. “The poor you have with you, always.”

    There is little doubt that there will be an uphill battle for VPD; because they have to not only fight the crack-heads, loonies and professional scumbags that roam around the skids looking for innocent victims and purchasers for their illegal commodities- but, they also have to fight against the supporters of such (as Leo mentioned in his blog). VPD has to fight against the liberal ‘social engineer’ squad that claims that the only feasible solution to the daily anarchy that is Vancouver’s west-side, is to throw copious amounts of taxpayer cash into programs that legitimize drug use (free clean needle programs, free booze for incurable alcoholics, endless handouts), robbery/theft (ie.” give me more free social aid and cash, or I’ll steal that car, rob that bystander and kill people”) and prostitution (“just another industry”).
    It’s the attitudes associated with the modern day so-called “experts”, who have never spent a day out of university in their pathetic lives, that will be the hardest fight for VPD’s “clean-up” program to overcome. These academics will have the ear of the politicians, community activists and pro-criminal crowd, and will keep trying push their rose-colored views of “social issues” on the decision makers. VPD will have to do some pushing of their own and discredit these ones; which will be a necessary part of their latest project to deal with the “assorted buttheads.”


  3. I’m not trying to go out of my way to be overly cynical, but I don’t see the kind of changes hoped for – as expressed in the comments here – ever occurring anywhere in Canada.

    It used to be that Joe Public didn’t really care too much what the police did, as long as it wasn’t waaay to overboard and as long as they (Joe Public) were safe in their beds at night. Not that they would stand up and defend the police if it came to light that a shithead got punched in the kisser, but they wouldn’t complain either.

    But nowadays, there’s too much crying for “civilian oversight” and “accountability”. Nothing wrong with those things in and of themselves, but those buzz words have become code for charging cops anytime we can. That being the case, the police can no longer do anything beyond the strict letter of the rule book. No more finding drugs on the dealers unless you want to be sued for racial profiling and unlawful search & seizure. No more telling some loud mouth asshole to shut his trap – or you’ll be police acted for “being uncivil” & “discredible conduct”.

    To take the streets back, you need not only police management with some level of testosterone, you need some sort of backing from City Council & the police service boards. But strangely, it’s the big cities with the biggest street problems that have the most left wing, heads up their asses political leaders.

    Wait a minute, is that a coincidence, or is there a cause & effect?


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