Re: ‘Businesses struggle with ‘undesirables,’’ Nov. 4
I should note that this was a meeting hosted by the SSWR Chamber of Commerce promoted as ‘concerns from local businesses on crime and drug use’ and not homelessness.
I was not at this meeting, but spoke to others that were. The use of the labels ‘riffraff’ and ‘undesirables’ are stigmatizing and do not contribute to a solution. People experiencing homelessness and those using substances on the street need specialized help from a system that cannot always manage their complex needs. This creates undesirable situations.
Place yourself in the soul of a person not having a home or having an addiction that takes over your ability for healthy connection. I see a social issue and a health issue, but not a police-led solution.
However, police are the de facto frontline response as in many cases as no one else seems to have the capacity to fully respond. The philosophy at the White Rock detachment is to provide a compassionate response that only uses the criminal justice system as a last resort or when a temporary solution may come from this system.
There are no kudos for making an arrest, but there is when an officer buys someone a sandwich or drives them to an appointment. We will attempt to make positive connections and await the day when those connections can be the conduit to a greater system of care.
As a community we must move away from using the law to solve the complex social and health issues these individuals face. For the near future, the police will continue to respond to the symptoms of homelessness and substance use. We will also investigate criminal acts that result from this conflict with mainstream society. However, this will not address the actual problem.
Yes, homelessness and public substance use are concerning, but that concern has to turn into humanistic community action, not further stigmatization.
Kale Pauls, White Rock RCMP Detachment Commander