During the month of February Today Media published a series on the Abbotsford Police Department (APD) and its role in dealing with the marginalized and the homeless in Abbotsford.
In particular, we looked at the evidence of a disconnect between the APD’s stated policy of ‘Disperse and Displace’ as a method of dealing with the complex issues surrounding marginalization in modern society and the lack of training for APD officers over the years – this despite the force being given a front line responsibility in dealing with the mentally ill, drug addicted and poverty stricken citizens who have no home to go to and cannot get access to shelter space except in times of extreme, life-threatening weather.
We looked at some of the legislative framework, almost all of it ultra vires, created by a City Council intent on fighting crime and being seen to be doing something about a reputation for extremely high rates of Hep C and HIV, high rates of drug use in high schools, rising levels of homelessness and the moniker ‘Murder Capital of Canada.’
The Anti-Harm Reduction Bylaw; the Anti-Homeless Bylaws; the City of Abbotsford Crime Reduction & Community Safety Strategy and, of course, the infamous Chicken Manure Incident have been among the most high profile and controversial elements of the Abbotsford Homeless Crisis.
Underlying it all has been either an inability or an unwillingness to understand or accept that people who suffer from mental illness, drug addiction, or homelessness are citizens and have rights including the right to basic human dignity.
The APD is also deeply involved and enmeshed in the City of Abbotsford’s multiple law suits and human rights complaints involving the Abbotsford Chapter of the BC/Yukon Drug War Survivors.
While it seems to have changed its draconian methods of dealing with the homeless (at least when the out-of-town media is around) the APD is refusing to provide the court with documentation required by the homeless and the penniless who are alledging abuse unless those penniless citizens pay them up to $29,000 for the records.
On February 18 it was revealed the APD is facing nearly 150 charges of corruption and misconduct which have the potential of unraveling many of the arrests and convictions on drug charges during the APD’s response to City of Abbotsford Crime Reduction & Community Safety Strategy.
The allegations against 17 APD officers involve false information provided in order to gain warrants.
We consulted with health authorities, experts and individuals who are deeply involved with mental health and addiction issues, particularly when it comes to police reactions to either or both. We published a summary of some of the best advice for police departments on training their staff. We went out of our way to invite the APD and Chief Bob Rich to participate in this series but, after five weeks and the publication of the entire series we have yet to receive the courtesy of a reply.
Our purpose was to raise issues of importance to this community and cause some discussion. Please take the time to read the series and comment, either in the comments box at the bottom of each post or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Between A Rock And A Hard Place
*Click on the headline to link to the article.
Is Abbotsford’s Police Department Capable Of Dealing With Homelessness or Drug Addiction? A look at some of the research, literature and evidence on police interactions with the marginalized and training available for police.
- Posted February 23, 2015
Meet Gord Bylo. His son suffers from mental illness and drug addiction. He and his wife are living a parent’s nightmare. His story is a compelling reason for change. Is Abbotsford’s Police Department Capable Of Dealing With…
- Posted February 17, 2015
Ann Livingston has had more experience dealing with marginalized men and women who suffer from drug addiction and mental illness and their relationships with the police than probably anyone in the Lower Mainland.
- Posted February 10, 2015
In late 2014 Fraser Health released a video about first responders and the difficulties they face in deadling with the marginalized. Abbotsford’s Chief Bob Rich and one of the officers involved in the complaints of abuse against the homeless feature prominently in the video.
- Posted February 1, 2015
By Mike Archer. Abbotsford has received a great deal of media attention for its treatment of the homeless, particularly those who suffer from mental illness, alcohol dependence or drug addiction. The City has developed and adopted a…