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COMMENTARY: Before we defund the police, maybe we should check their call lists

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By Mike Smyth  Global News
Posted November 10, 2020 8:00 am
 Updated November 10, 2020 7:33 amWATCH: (Aug. 29, 2020) High-profile cases of police use of force against Black people have sparked calls to defund police services and invest more money in social services. Morganne Campbell reports on rallies being held across Canada, what the movement means for Canadians, and whether change is already happening. – Aug 29, 2020
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In the aftermath of this year’s historic anti-racism rallies across the United States, Canada and the rest of the world, the movement to “defund” police departments is ramping up.

The campaigns call for governments to scale back or even eliminate budget funding for police services, and direct public dollars instead to social services like mental-health, drug-addiction and anti-poverty programs.

The movement places Canadian police departments in a tricky situation, especially with the continuing focus on officer misconduct and police training that critics see as inadequate.

Police departments have been careful in their responses, saying they would welcome additional funding for social services that would lessen the increasing demands on front-line cops.

Talk to any big-city police officer these days and you’re bound to hear stories about how so much of their time is taken up with problems associated with mental illness, addiction and homelessness.

“We’re happy to engage in those conversations,” Vancouver Police Department Deputy Chief Howard Chow told me when I asked if police want help with calls related to mental health and other growing social challenges.

But Chow also has a sobering reality check for anyone who thinks it would be a simple matter to just slash a big city’s police budget: the rising number of police calls for service.

Chow was on duty last Friday night when he decided to take a random computer screenshot of the Vancouver police department’s incoming call list.

The list — which he posted Twitter — showed 57 calls-for-service holding in the system as dispatchers worked to prioritize cases.

The calls included a paramedic seeking assistance in a suspected stabbing, an assault at a foster home, a construction worker reporting someone threatening him with a knife, a restaurant reporting a break-and-enter, a vehicle break-in at a downtown parkade, a woman reporting an assault by an ex-boyfriend, a man lying on the sidewalk punching himself and bleeding from the head, and 50 other calls.

“It’s a typical snapshot in time,” Chow told me, explaining how police must triage their responses.

“Unfortunately, some callers will end up waiting many hours for our attendance, as more serious incidents come in,” he said. “A new call for service comes in every two minutes.”

The Friday night call list included many incidents that would appear to fall in the category of calls related to poverty, mental health and homelessness.

Vancouver now has Canada’s largest homeless encampment in Strathcona Park, where police are called frequently to deal with trouble.

The problem, Chow pointed out, is that most mental health calls include threats to public safety.

“Eighty-four per cent of all mental health calls we go to involve danger of violence or some criminality that require police to be there,” he said.

“The reality is, there’s no other agencies that are out there right now to deal with some of these aspects.”

Even situations that appear less dangerous often require a response by a police officer, not a social worker, he said.

“Sometimes you’re dealing with a situation at 3 o’clock in the morning when no one else is available,” he said.

“Or you may have a caller who says, ‘I’m concerned about my 84-year-old neighbour who hasn’t been seen in a week.’ The police still need to go there because how are you going to get access? How are you going to breach the doors? How are you going to secure the scene afterward? No other agency is enabled to do that.”

And then there’s just regular old crime, which is up dramatically in many Vancouver neighbourhoods.

“We’ve seen spikes in commercial break-and-enters. We’ve seen spikes in street-level assaults and violence. Anti-Asian hate crimes saw an 878 per cent increase because of the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve seen an increase in violent crime in 16 of our 24 neighbourhoods.

Throw in the escalating opioid addiction crisis and the VPD call list paints a picture of a department run off its collective feet.

“It’s been a busy year for us,” Chow told me. “We haven’t been able to scale back.”

Defund the police? If anything, the current situation in Vancouver and many other Canadian cities presents a strong argument for increasing police budgets, not the other way around.

Mike Smyth is host of ‘The Mike Smyth Show’ on Global News Radio 980 CKNW in Vancouver and a commentator for Global News. You can reach him at mike@cknw.com and follow him on Twitter at @MikeSmythNews.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment In
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UPDATE #1 - Calgary police officer killed in the line of duty

Calgary, AB,
01
January
2021

UPDATE #1 - Calgary police officer killed in the line of duty

With the consent of his family, we are able to release the name of our member who was killed while on duty late yesterday.

Sgt. Andrew Harnett, 37, joined the Calgary Police Service 12 years ago, after serving as a military police officer. He was promoted to Sergeant in 2019 and was most recently assigned to District 5.

While working to keep our streets safe, Andrew was struck by a vehicle fleeing a traffic stop. Despite the heroic attempts by his colleagues and members of EMS, he died as a result of his injuries.

There is a massive effort underway to locate and bring to justice those responsible for taking the life of one of our members. Dozens of sworn and civilian members are working around the clock tracking down each and every lead and these efforts will not stop.

Original release below.

Calgary police officer killed in the line of duty

While working to keep our streets safe, a Calgary Police Service officer was struck by a vehicle fleeing a traffic stop. Despite desperate attempts by his colleagues, and members of EMS, he died as a result of his injuries.

At approximately 10:50 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 31, 2020, an officer conducted a traffic stop in the area of Falconridge Boulevard and Falconridge Drive N.E. During the traffic stop, the vehicle fled, striking the officer in the process. Other officers were nearby and rendered aid as quickly as possible, while EMS rushed to their side. Paramedics and fellow officers fought to save his life, but he was pronounced deceased at hospital near midnight.

The search for the driver continues. Road closures in the area are expected to occur for some time. No further details will be released at this time to ensure all of the officer’s family have been properly notified and cared for.

The profound grief this has brought to all members of the Calgary Police Service and their families is unmeasurable. Please bear with us while we work through this difficult time.

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I would love to see the councilors volunteer to head up the next "Clean up"   using the method they suggest.  Could be fun to watch.?

Toronto councillors call for “nonviolent approach” to illegal encampments

July 23, 2021Linkedin
 

Five city councillors have signed an open letter asking Toronto Mayor John Tory to adopt a “nonviolent approach” when clearing out illegal homeless encampments in Toronto parks.

The letter, signed by councillors Shelley Carroll, Mike Layton, Josh Matlow, Gordon Perks and Kristyn Wong-Tam, calls on the mayor to stop using “extreme show of force” when the city dismantles homeless encampments.

“There is absolutely no need for batons, pepper spray or even guns, not when the work should be done by the City’s Streets to Home staff and other outreach workers,” the letter reads.

The letter comes days after the city finally dismantled an illegal encampment at Alexandra Park and Lamport stadium, resulting in violent clashes between activists and police.

 

At Lamport staidum, hundreds of protesters — most of whom are not homeless and do not live in the encampment — showed up to stop the tent city from being cleared.

Many of the activists blocking the police belonged to the Encampment Support Network, a volunteer network that supports residents of the illegal encampments. 

Footage from the scenes at Lamport show the protesters actively blocking police from clearing the tents and refusing to obey commands. 

Twenty-six people were arrested at Lamport Stadium. Seven of them are facing criminal charges while the rest were charged under the Trespass to Property Act.

Police said three officers were injured while clearing the encampment, and that objects were thrown and an unknown substance was sprayed at officers.

The City of Toronto has provided hotels and other forms of shelter to the residents of the illegal encampments, however many of them prefer to live in the encampments instead citing the fear from random check-ins.

It is anticipated that the illegal homeless encampment at Moss Park will be cleared in the coming days. 

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This is what happens when you listen to the lefties. We have one posting right on this forum. Is is bad enough when there are economic consequences, here is an article about the victims of crime due to them.

Adam Zivo: In the U.S., champagne socialists pursue soft-on-crime policies at the expense of vulnerable communities

Adam Zivo  22 hrs ago
 
 
 
 

Being soft on crime is fashionable among champagne socialists. Within their circles, there are few easier ways to win social clout than to declare that the police ought to be literally abolished, or to rhapsodize that what criminals need, more than anything else, is more leniency and understanding. Conversely, the idea that policing might make communities safer, or that criminals bear some personal responsibility for their actions, is treated like blasphemy.

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This softhearted approach, which in practice prioritizes the interests of criminals over victims, would be unobjectionable if it demonstrably led to better outcomes for vulnerable communities. However, when these beliefs are put into practice, they predictably result in more crime and violence — harms that low-income communities bear the brunt of.

This was brutally illustrated in San Francisco last year. After the city redirected US$120 million ($151 million) away from its law-enforcement budget in 2020, it was swept by an unprecedented epidemic of violent crime. Crime became so unbearable that San Francisco Mayor London Breed, a Democrat, made a volte-face last month and launched a police crackdown. She acknowledged that aggressive law enforcement may “make a lot of people uncomfortable,” but that cops need to get tough on “all the bulls–t that has destroyed our city.”

San Francisco’s experiences are mirrored by a number of other liberal cities in the United States, including New York and Baltimore, which recently have also pivoted away from defunding the police.

If these cities had listened to low-income communities to begin with, this course-correction could have been avoided. A 2020 YouGov poll , conducted just weeks after the George Floyd protests erupted, found that a clear majority of low-income respondents (78 per cent) opposed abolishing the police, with 63 per cent of respondents preferring to reform existing systems. In contrast, those making over $100,000 were 50 per cent more likely to prefer abolition compared to lower income groups.

Examining policing from a racial lens yields similar results. A 2020 Gallup poll found that 81 per cent of Black respondents did not want less policing in their neighbourhoods. Yet it turns out that when it comes to making the world a safer place for the marginalized, politicians prefer to listen to vocal, well-off activists who are alienated from the interests, beliefs and values of the very communities they’re ostensibly advocating for.

It’s not hard to understand why marginalized communities consistently show high levels of pro-policing sentiments. Economic vulnerability begets vulnerability to crime. Those who have visceral concerns about being robbed, assaulted or raped are less prone to clasp hands with their would-be assailants and sing “Kumbaya.” The costs of bleeding-heart utopianism may not be felt on Twitter or in university seminar rooms, but they are nonetheless real.

Nor is this pro-policing sentiment anything new. Former U.S. president Bill Clinton’s 1994 crime bill, which led to more punitive policing methods, is decried by contemporary progressive activists as an example of irredeemable racism. Yet the bill was largely supported by Black lawmakers at the time — including a coalition of African-American mayors who governed large cities such as Detroit, Atlanta and Cleveland.

This shouldn’t imply that low-income and racialized communities are uncritical of the police. Distrust of the police remains high, because the country has a long history of racism that has eroded institutional credibility. Rather, support tends to conceptualize policing as a public service that is being inadequately provided and, as such, should be improved rather than eliminated.

You would never guess any of this if you listened to a champagne socialist, though. Within their bubbles, it’s axiomatic that law enforcement is inherently unjust and should probably be abolished. But why does this belief persist, despite its unpopularity with the very constituencies it’s meant to help?

Perhaps it’s because there is a kernel of truth to what they believe. Yes, there is injustice in law enforcement. And yes, to some extent, crime is symptomatic of structural inequities — people are shaped by the opportunities available to them, or lack thereof. Some sympathy ought to be given to those who were thrust into lives of crime by forces outside their control.

Yet these are not the only factors at play. Sympathy for criminals must be balanced with sympathy for victims. To ignore the impacts of crime is to consign entire communities to violence and harassment. Champagne socialists ignore this because their privilege blinds them to the realities of crime. Cloistered in safe neighbourhoods, they rarely feel the costs of their own radical politics. Those costs are, conveniently, offloaded to the poor.

Champagne socialists tend to be hyper-sensitive to privilege, so it’s fair to ask why they have this particular blind spot. Perhaps the answer lies in “ luxury beliefs .” Coined in 2019, the term refers to beliefs that upper-class individuals use to signify social status — the ideological equivalent of a fur coat.

Being soft on crime has all the hallmarks of a good luxury belief. It imbues people with an air of moral righteousness and social benevolence, while imposing no real costs on their lives. It evokes the aesthetics of war and of resistance against occupation, which helps champagne socialists role play as the revolutionaries they so desperately want to be.

Being soft on crime is a way for indolent champagne socialists to feel consequential and morally whole. The fact that the poor reject these politics is irrelevant — in the end, what matters is the navel-gazing vanity of well-off activists

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54 minutes ago, Junior said:

This is what happens when you listen to the lefties. We have one posting right on this forum. Is is bad enough when there are economic consequences, here is an article about the victims of crime due to them.

 

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One?????  There are posters with extreme POVs left and right on this forum. Nothing wrong with that as long as you apply the necessary filters to their posts. 

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Ah, and there is the rub.

The complaint about 'one' has been going on for the best part of a decade.  

The 'one' is still here, while the extreme poster from the right has been turfed multiple time and keeps coming back like a bad rash.

It only goes to highlight the problems with society now.  

And that is why the U.S. capitol was stormed.  

Eliminate the extreme posters from the right and maybe we can continue with mature intelligent discussions.

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3 hours ago, deicer said:

Ah, and there is the rub.

The complaint about 'one' has been going on for the best part of a decade.  

The 'one' is still here, while the extreme poster from the right has been turfed multiple time and keeps coming back like a bad rash.

It only goes to highlight the problems with society now.  

And that is why the U.S. capitol was stormed.  

Eliminate the extreme posters from the right and maybe we can continue with mature intelligent discussions.

“ Eliminate the extreme posters from the right 

But keep the extreme posters from the Left?? …they get a free pass?? ….is that what you are saying? Let me guess…you are a part time preacher on weekends spreading the almighty Gods divine word? 

70EF21D8-C0C9-483A-B195-394D494514AF.jpeg

Edited by Jaydee
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The difference is, I am willing to discuss the issues and while you may not agree with my points, I have never threatened anyone or written anything that can be construed as 'dangerous'.

Look to the history of this forum and see who has been removed because of just those things and then tell me who exactly is getting a free pass.

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49 minutes ago, deicer said:

The difference is, I am willing to discuss the issues and while you may not agree with my points, I have never threatened anyone or written anything that can be construed as 'dangerous'.

Look to the history of this forum and see who has been removed because of just those things and then tell me who exactly is getting a free pass.

Curious, is the history recorded somewhere or only based on memory?

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18 minutes ago, Kargokings said:

Curious, is the history recorded somewhere or only based on memory?

It is recorded.

Edited to add:

And it has been discussed with our current host.

Edited by deicer
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5 hours ago, Jaydee said:

“ Eliminate the extreme posters from the right 

But keep the extreme posters from the Left?? …they get a free pass?? ….is that what you are saying? Let me guess…you are a part time preacher on weekends spreading the almighty Gods divine word? 

70EF21D8-C0C9-483A-B195-394D494514AF.jpeg

you just argued against yourself.  

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1 hour ago, boestar said:

you just argued against yourself.  

Compared to….I consider myself a Fiscal Conservative with an interest in conserving traditional values. If that’s far right…I wear that badge proudly. At least I know what I stand for.

Edited by Jaydee
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Report on defunding Halifax police lists reforms, includes no specific budget cuts

By Staff  The Canadian Press
Posted January 17, 2022 11:30 am
 

A wide-ranging report on defunding the Halifax police force is recommending a shift away from a “reactive” enforcement-based policing model.

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The report for the city’s Board of Police Commissioners includes 36 recommendations on police practices, oversight and accountability.

But the 14-member police board subcommittee that produced the report said it did not have enough data to recommend a specific amount to be cut from the police budget.

The report calls for “detasking,” which would remove certain functions from the police, such as responding to mental health calls. Those calls would instead be given to teams composed of civilians.

The subcommittee calls for a series of legislative and policy reforms to promote community safety, and it recommends tying police budgets to clear performance metrics.

he report is also recommending the police board consider disarming some police officers, such as community response officers.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 17, 2022.

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