Vancouver Police Propose Change To Drug Strategy

The Vancouver Police department has put forward a 2009 business plan which calls for more cops on the street in the Downtown Eastside. The department suggests spending less time and paperwork prosecuting low-level drug offences in the area. (Photo: Ian Smith, Vancouver Sun)The Vancouver Police department has put forward a 2009 business plan which calls for more cops on the street in the Downtown Eastside. The department suggests spending less time and paperwork prosecuting low-level drug offences in the area. (Photo: Ian Smith, Vancouver Sun)The Vancouver Police Department is shifting its focus in the Downtown Eastside away from arresting and charging people for simple drug possession in a bid to keep cops on the street by avoiding hours of paperwork.

The directive, in the VPD’s 2009 business plan presented to the police board Wednesday, is part of a push to reduce street disorder in the troubled neighbourhood by increasing police presence.

Although police have always had discretion as to whether to charge low-level drug offenders, according to the business plan the priority will now be on seizing drugs rather than prosecution.

“We’ll come across people all day long who have maybe a few rocks of cocaine in their pocket, or maybe a bit of methamphetamine, [for]personal use,” said Const. Jana McGuinness. “Technically, yes, you could arrest and you could tie up two officers for four hours writing a report like that.

“That’s where the discretion will be employed. Where they can, say, seize the drugs, get the drugs off the street and then go about their business of being out there stopping other crimes.”

Less paperwork will mean more officers on the street to tackle street disorder, McGuinness said. The police business plan identifies a number of behaviours the force is trying to curb, including aggressive panhandling, squeegeeing, open-air drug markets, unlicensed street vending and sleeping in city parks.

The business plan included one notable omission. The draft plan, released in January, had included targets for a 20-per-cent increase in bylaw tickets to reduce street disorder, as well as a plan for each Downtown Eastside beat cop to do four “street checks” per block, in which an officer asks for a person’s name and identification.

But advocacy groups complained about those quotas, which they saw as the continuation of crackdowns under Sam Sullivan’s Project Civil City.

David Eby of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association described such targets as “offensive to the community.”

The quotas have disappeared from the final business plan.

“We’re very pleased to hear that they’re changing their practices and that they have been responsive to their concerns to the community,” Eby said after attending Wednesday’s police board meeting.

“We’ll be watching to make sure that that’s actually the case.”

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– Article from The Vancouver Sun.



  1. Anonymous on

    My recent drug arrest for a small amount of pot in Vancouver was my own fault.
    You guys are really blowing yourselves by arguing about keeping marijuana in the forefront of the news,instead of shit that matters like rent control or getting a fucking job.


  2. Raven on

    If the Police do happen to gain this ability to seize and destroy illegal drugs from people, there is a logical way to keep it fair.

    Make them keep a log book (audited monthly), of all interactions with the public and after-the-fact interactions between fellow officers regarding the destruction of said drugs.

    Similar to a “sharps disposal unit” like you would see at the hospital for disposing of needles, you have an “illicit item disposal unit” fill with a solution of soap and water and drugs get disposed of (and destroyed) quickly.

    ***Even further into my point add one thing into their policy… the person who the drugs are confiscated from must always witness their disposal and destruction.*******

    The time I did get busted, it was by the gung-ho RCMP… They were nice that day and told me to just destroy it onto the ground and get lost. That saved me from having to go to court, or have my time wasted with handcuffs put on me.

    I don’t need a criminal record thank you.

    Im all for the increase in Police presence PROVIDED that they not only garuntee that the person gets to witness that they are in fact destroyed, and they avoid picking on “target” ethnicities.

    And they bloody well acts as PUBLIC SERVANTS, it’s not like your life isn’t as important as theirs. That means simply, they BEHAVE themselves as ladies and gentleman. (And have a positive sense of humor)

    SAY NO TO C-15 all,

  3. Jim on

    While I agree with the police decision to spend less time arresting low-level drug users, I think that just taking the drugs away from them is a dangerous practice for the public.

    I think in the majority of cases, the drugs obtained by DTES ‘street-residents’ are through less-than-desirable means -> prostitution, theft, panhandling, etc. So, when the cops take away the drugs from the person, they’re forcing that person to go out and commit another less-than-desirable act to replace the drugs they just lost. In essence, the cops are creating an increased demand for all the drugs they confiscate, which is really just lining the pockets of the dealers / distributers.


  4. Anonymous on

    Now let me get this straight.. Cops will take the drugs from people without paperwork, hummmm. What is to stop those same cops from selling it later since there is no account of the amounts being possessed? The only way to handle drugs is to LEGALIZE it will keep everyone honest!

  5. Anonymous on

    Sounds great only problem is more cops is never a good thing its been proven cops are better behaved when alone when they are in groups they are more aggressive and impulsive.

    When alone a cop is more like a regular person and can easily identify with the civilian people around him/her

    When in a group cops identify with other cops cutting off that critical relation to humanity.

  6. JonnyBlazze on

    Police should not be allowed to seize anything drugs, alcohol or paraphernalia with out filling out a report.