3 min

Improve policing: COPE

Mayoralty candidate calls for genuine community input

Credit: Wendy D

A new approach to policing is needed to deal with gay-bashing says the mayoralty candidate for COPE.

Larry Campbell wants to overhaul policing in the West End “to reach out to the community.”

At a press conference at Little Sister’s Oct 11, Campbell said that if an old lady had been killed in Point Grey rather than Aaron Webster in Stanley Park, there would have been bigger changes to the way policing is delivered and the community is involved in policing.

“We need more of a sense between police and the community that they are working together because it’s a community or neighbourhood.”

Campbell (who is no relation to provincial premier Gordon Campbell) repeatedly stated his admiration for Insp Dave Jones, who is the top cop in the West End. But, he says, “I’d like to see police out of their cars and on the street.” Police need to know the gay community and the people who live in the West End in order to deter crime and reach out to the community, he says.

A new approach is needed to community policing that goes beyond seeing it as an “add-on to the budget,” Campbell says. “Community policing is not a building; it’s a core value. Yet it’s the first thing to fall by the wayside when the budget is cut.”

Ellen Woodsworth, a COPE council candidate and longtime activist on lesbian, seniors and housing issues, called for a new approach in choosing gay and lesbian representatives to the committee that advises the police chief.

“The police-community liaison should be someone from the community who can advocate for change when there’s a problem,” she says. The committee representatives are now chosen by police.

Campbell also committed to city involvement in funding the Bash Line which has suffered from a deficit of volunteers, low profile and a lack of cash for several years.

He says that the police budget needs to be re-examined with the ideals of community policing in mind. On the one hand, money may be needed to hire additional officers, he says. On the other hand, some police may be freed up from their existing duties after a Four-Pillar program is instituted to deal with drug addicts.

Campbell is willing to examine whether money is wasted on policing drugs and ‘vice’-the latter an area of policing that has traditionally targetted gays and other sexual minorities.

“We can take a look at vice and see if we’re really talking about our social values, not criminal values.”

Above all, he says, “I think it’s key that the community be involved in the process and the community be represented at the table.”

Pundits predict Campbell may upset NPA mayoralty candidate Jennifer Clarke’s run for the post. An Oct 9 radio poll at CKNW following the appearance of Campbell and Clarke found Campbell with 48 percent support, Clarke with 28 percent and vcaTEAM mayoralty candidate Valerie MacLean trailing with 22 percent.

But Campbell is appealing to the gay and lesbian community to also elect Woodsworth and COPE gay candidate Tim Stevenson.

“Ellen and Tim have to be at that table and at council to help us who are not of your community to bring a voice. They are visible leaders in your community. I need the credibility that they both have.

“We want to recognize each neighbourhood in the city and this is a neighbourhood.”

Campbell also raises the issue of the temporary liquor licenses that have been handed out to recent pubs on Davie-the Fountainhead and PumpJacks.

“There are less policing problems here than in many of our other neighbourhoods. Yet, [city hall] won’t let these people have a permanent license. What’s going on?”

The NPA council “does not respect either citizens or neighbourhods,” says Campbell, pointing to instances where councillors have literally turned their backs on citizens making presentations at city hall.

Stevenson says that, as a mayor, Campbell would be “really empathetic and [he] knows about our [gay and lesbian] issues and is willing to discuss our issues.” But it’s also important to elect “councillors who do not happen to be gay but are proud to be gay.”

The television series DaVinci’s Inquest is based on the real-life work of Campbell when he was the city’s top coroner. He also applied this year for the job of police chief of the Vancouver Police Department but did not make the second short list.

Election day is Nov 16. Unregistered voters can take two pieces of ID to their nearest polling station.