News Local

Vancouver police brace for packed board meeting

By Michael Mui, 24 Hours Vancouver

The Vancouver's Downtown Eastside along the Hastings corridor. (CARMINE MARINELLI/ 24 HOURS FILE PHOTO)

The Vancouver's Downtown Eastside along the Hastings corridor. (CARMINE MARINELLI/ 24 HOURS FILE PHOTO)

Vancouver law enforcement are bracing for a packed police board meeting to discuss jaywalking enforcement on the Downtown Eastside and employment information checks on Thursday.

Const. Brian Montague said the department has set up a separate room to address complaints in its Service and Policy Review Committee, instead of hosting the public meeting in its usual upper-floor boardroom.

Pivot Legal Society lawyer Doug King, representing the complainants, said the police’s response takes steps in the right direction, but he was disappointed by the data compiled by police.

In its report, the department is responding to three recommendations from the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner, which asked it for additional jaywalking enforcement stats, crash numbers and a new policy to “reduce the number of court warrants issued for minor offences.”

The department was unable to produce ticket stats from 2002 to 2006 as asked, but the data it did produce for 2007 corresponded with existing department numbers that suggested police were currently ticketing fewer people in the DTES.

The VPD’s crash stats showed the number of pedestrian-car collisions were relatively uniform across the city’s four districts.

Crash numbers in the DTES represented about one-fifth of the crashes in its district, which includes Strathcona, Grandview-Woodlands and Hastings-Sunrise.

The report added VPD recruits are now trained from the outset to use discretion and consider “proportionality” when deciding to recommend charges for minor offences.

Meanwhile, the department also outlined circumstances where it would provide a person’s mental health background in police record checks for employment.

In October, B.C.’s privacy watchdog announced its own investigation on the checks due to concerns about how much information was being released.

VPD point out the information is only released to the person whose records are being requested.

But one point that drew King’s concern was how, under provincial guidelines, any suicide attempt from the past year would be released under the checks.

“For the next year, any time they apply for work or for volunteer opportunities, they’re being told that they need to notify their employer that they contacted the suicide hotline,” he said.

“Clearly, it’s capturing everybody under this umbrella of mental health.”



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