Pubdate: Wed, 04 Jun 2003
Source: Vancouver Courier (CN BC)
Copyright: 2003 Vancouver Courier
Author: Kirk Tousaw


To the editor:

Add "making our streets unsafe" to the list of problems with Operation 
Torpedo, the VPD's crackdown on the poor and marginalized citizens of the 
Downtown Eastside ("Bad drivers benefit from drug crackdown," May 28).

Besides driving people away from the services that benefit them the most, 
allegedly using inappropriate tactics and levels of force on drug addicts 
and displacing the problem to other areas of the city (but not, of course, 
solving it in any way-or even trying), the VPD's enforcement crusade is now 
linked to a reduction in traffic policing.

Transport Canada reports that, in 2001, almost 3,000 people died in traffic 
accidents. By contrast, in 1995 (the latest year for which I could find 
statistics) Health Canada reports that approximately 800 people died as a 
result of illicit drug use (either directly, through overdose, or 
indirectly, due to infection and disease that, importantly, are exacerbated 
by the crackdown).

Perhaps it is time for the VPD to reevaluate its priorities. Or should we 
continue to persecute drug users (who principally hurt themselves) at the 
expense of traffic offenders (who put others in danger through their actions)?

Kirk Tousaw, Policy Director, BC Civil Liberties Association
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