Balanced Budget you say? - Specific (only maybe) to

I have had this on hand to send out for about 5 months now.  This seems like
a good time to send it out after CTV ran a special documentary type movie
from 9 to 11 on Sunday, Sept 5th.  the documentary/movie was about Al
Arsenault and the Odd Squad, the 5 constables from the Vancouver Police
Department who produced "Through a Blue Lens" an award winning documentary.
Unfortunately, they did not receive as much help as they should have.  It is
often said that there is a business of Do-Gooders in the Downtown East Side
of Vancouver.  A plethora of literally hundreds of well paid people who are
"trying" to do good there but are all failing.  Anyway, Gerry Wickstead, a
VPD constable who wrote the following piece calls this a rant.  I call it an
informed look at policing in the lower mainland.
There are literally thousands of wanted criminals living in BC.  They have
returnable warrants form Newfoundland to Alberta but nothing happens because
if they are arrested in Downtown Vancouver on the outstandinf Brampton
Warrant, the City of Brampton will not pay for he return of the perpetrator
so he (or she) just stays in Vancouver.
Former Mayor of Vancouver, Phillip Owen had a great idea.  He propsed that
we have a "Con-Air" out of Vancouver.  Every week an RCAF Hercules would
load up with returnable prisoners and fly them back across the country.  It
would give the flyers their mandatory hours and send the boys and girls back
home to face the music.
Nothing came of it, but I thought it was Philip's proudest moment, even moe
than the four pillars.
This is a political statement which points out the need for more budgets for
the VPD and other forces in the lower mainland My kudoos to Gerry Wickstead
fopr writing this and my thanks for the permission to forward it to this
list.  Those in other countries, states and cities who receive this can .
David Ingram
VPD Constable Gerry Wickstead's piece
Balanced Budget you say?
A commentary on justice spending in BC.
We elect our fellow citizens to prioritize the billions of tax dollars
that are entrusted to them.  Justice funding is both a Federal and
Provincial responsibility where, once again, BC has not received its
fair share.  We know from experience that our federal tax dollars
earmarked for projects in this province never return and are spent
elsewhere in Canada. As local politicians pat each other on the back
celebrating a perceived "balanced budget" we need only to look at the
state of our justice system to see how the numbers may be suspect.
Politicians of every stripe are chanting the 'Health Care and
Education' mantra while Public Safety is placed on the backburner.
Consistently BC has the worst annual Charge clearance record among the
ten provinces.  In 2002, only 16% of reported crime in this province
resulted in a criminal charge handed over to prosecutors.  This figure
has not been adjusted to reflect the estimated 30% of charges that
were later dumped by BC's Crown prosecutors.  So really we are
comparing BC's 11% charge rate with Alberta (29%), Quebec (25%),
Ontario (30%), and Canada (26%).  Why the discrepancy?
In 2002, BC's 6,645 police officers had 522,663 criminal incidents to
investigate that included 49,641 violent crimes.  Compare this to
Quebec's 13,835 cops who had 476,543 criminal incidents that included
53,625 violent crimes.  Ontario had 21,637 police to investigate
809,072 criminal incidents with 99,990 violent crimes.  According to
Stats Canada, BC would need to hire another 600 police to match the
national per capita average or 900 more to match Quebec and Ontario.
Central Canada can afford to re-assign 500 police to work on a
province-wide organized crime project. Here in BC it seems we don't
have enough police to investigate 911 calls successfully let alone
deal with organized crime, sex offenders, child porn, traffic safety,
auto crimes, etc.
While the BC provincial government continues to close down jails and
courthouses in an effort to save money one wonders what could be
next... how about decriminalizing crimes?  It has become the norm for
BC's persistent repeat offenders to now receive conditional sentences
and probation instead of incarceration.  Where is the deterrence when
there is little chance of getting caught and charged by the police and
an even smaller chance of incarceration?  Why are we having a fire
sale on our provincial prison camps when these facilities could be
converted into structured drug and alcohol treatment centres based on
abstinence and long-term life skills training?
Everyone agrees that drug addiction fuels much of the crime.  One of
the reasons BC drug dealers get short sentences is because there is no
room in the prison system to accomodate all offenders.  They are easy
to spot because they have no fear of going to jail.  In 2002, the
police in this province charged 4,775 adults with drug trafficking,
importing, or cultivation compared to 4,578 charges in Quebec.  BC has
a prison capacity of approximately 4,400 jail beds with 10% of these
beds occupied by drug offenders.  The rest of the beds are occupied by
offenders convicted of violent crimes, property crimes, bail
violations, etc.  Each year just the number of drug traffickers caught
by police could fill our prisons.  So why has the Federal gov't given
Quebec 2,000 more federal jail beds to incarcerate offenders in that
Before we brag about balanced budgets why can't we hire enough cops to
match what the other provinces already have?  I compare BC's justice
system to the cheap $2 padlock some of you may have on your garden
shed. It's only good enough to keep the honest people out.  Our only
hope is to convince Quebec's Bombardier to start manufacturing police
cars - then maybe the Feds might give this province more police
officers to fill them.
Gerry Wickstead (609-1996)  18 year municipal constable
His personal opinions are not necessarily those of his Employer.
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