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  • Volume Eight, Number Five: July 2003

    Vancouver Police Pull Funding Request After Protests


    After growing public backlash, the Vancouver Police Department withdrew their request for $1.2 million to continue their intensified enforcement in the Downtown Eastside.

    Police officials pulled their budgeting request after human rights and local resident groups charged the police were using excessive force and targeting innocent people for scrutiny.

    “Growing criticism of the crackdown has also come from residents of neighboring areas, such as the West End, Mount Pleasant and Commercial Drive, who claim drug related crime has increased in their communities as a result of the strategy dispersing the Downtown Eastside drug scene” said Vancouver COPE Mayor Larry Campbell.

     The Downtown Eastside initiative, which began on April 7, was developed by the VPD in response to the Four Pillars Drug Strategy prevention, treatment, harm reduction and enforcement. Downtown Eastside residents have both praised and criticized the VPD's enforcement strategy.

     Campbell, who is also chair of the police board, reaffirmed the COPE council's June 10 decision to “put the funding request on hold, until a complete and independent report on the impact of the crackdown comes back to city council in November.”

    The Vancouver Police Department, Vancouver Coastal Health Authority and other independent researchers are undertaking to evaluate the police initiative in the Downtown Eastside and its health impacts. The full impact report coming to city council this fall will review the completed evaluations and report back on the crackdown strategy's effect on other neighborhoods.

    The VPD had originally asked city council for $2.3 million in March for the strategy, but was rejected by the COPE council.

    According to the city's Director of Financial Planning Ken Bayne, the annual budget for the VPD, like all other city services, is ultimately the responsibility of the city, even though Police Chief Jamie Graham has the final say on all department expenditures and operational matters.

     In order to meet VPD initiated objectives like the Downtown Eastside, initiative, the police chief can choose to run a deficit with or without city council approval, or he can reduce services in other areas of policing.

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