Tell Constable Tonner what you think

Constable Mark Tonner, weekly columnist
for the Vancouver Province, wants your feedback. He’s known for his virulent
anti-pot, anti-drug, lock ’em up stance, and he needs to be shown that
the people of Vancouver, and the people of the world, do not agree with
his ideology or his ideas.

Please take a look at his most recent column, and take a moment to send
him an email and let him know what you think about solving property crime
and getting drug use off the streets. Techniques like prescription of drugs
to addicts (it’s working in Switzerland) and increasing the number of beds
for detox are going to be far more successful than spending more money
on cops and “overwhelming police presence”, who only serve to drive up
the price of hard drugs when they bust dealers, and thereby increase property

Are you willing to pay for more police officers?

Vancouver Province <[email protected]>

Friday 13 November 1998

By Mark Tonner <[email protected]>,
or phone: (604) 717-3349 (enter #1373)

While Vancouver’s police board, police union, mayor and police chief wrangle
over law enforcement budgets, the rest of us are left wondering why such
issues should be difficult to resolve.

If voters knew with certainty that a tax boost would be devoted solely
to increased police patrols, they’d likely authorize more than the one
per cent the city proposes.

Vancouverites have not lost their taste for law and order; indeed, they
demand more whenever they’re given a chance to speak.

Such discussions inevitably settle on the city’s downtown east side.
Given the current legal climate, the only way to impose order there is
with an overwhelming police presence.

The most effective approach: Keeping crooks in jail, is simply not permitted.

To clean up the east side, and keep it that way, would require more
than the 40 new officers under discussion, but they’d be a decent start.

It must also be borne in mind that skid row is a small part of a large
city.  Citizens everywhere in Vancouver are keen on public safety,
and though most would approve of increased police patrols in skid row,
few would support them at the expense of their own neigbourhoods.

Whether or not the current police budget is sufficiently lean is a contentious
issue, and for good reason: If we were flying ourselves all over the country,
and driving Cadillacs while our streets ran wild, more money for policing
would be pointless.

Yet the management and membership of this department have not been sidling
up to the buffet. We’ve honed our spending in conscientious fashion, to
the point where the whittle marks are starting to show.

VPD members are remarkably loyal to their work, but aren’t above showing
a certain cynicism in their humour. Let me share a few of the comical budget
reduction ideas making the rounds:

It’s been suggested we could shut our patrol function down one day a
week, choose the day at random and keep it secret. Most crooks would never
figure it out, thousands of dollars would be saved, and the drop in arrest
stats could be touted as some sort of victory.

Police could be sent out on rollerblades, rather than on bikes, or in
cars.  Money would be saved, and the silent approach would be an effective
tool, so long as quick stops weren’t needed. Of course, the truly frugal
gendarme would be issued the much-underrated pogo stick. Instant status
and mobility, instant self-defence accessory!

One especially misdirected fellow proposed a new category of 911 call,
the “T” file. As budgetary restraints tighten, prohibiting response to
certain incidents, these “T” or “teddy bear” files could be opened. A fuzzy
stuffed bear could be sent to comfort the caller, in lieu of an officer.

It would be simple enough to set up a catapult, or some kind of air
cannon on the roof at HQ, and our accuracy, it was suggested, would improve
with practise.

Humour helps, but it won’t change this: The notion that we’re living
in a time when funding for police should be reduced appears in every version
of the budget discussion I’ve heard.

Is this truly such a time? I say, ask the people. My guess is they want
more officers out there, and they’d be willing to pay for them.

Are you for, against, or indifferent? Share your take on this- spare
a moment to call my voice mail at (604) 717-3349 (enter #1373) or
read the subscript and drop me an email to [email protected]

Const. Mark Tonner is a Vancouver police officer. His opinions do not
necessarily reflect those of the city’s police department or board. Tonner
may be contacted at The Province, or by e-mail at [email protected]