Gang wars in Vancouver has been described by no less than the city’s chief of police as “brutal” and that Vancouver has become the battlefield between myriad drug gangs (Rodgers 2009). The rising drug market has become the focal point of all these criminal activities that resulted to a number of killings. Authorities admit that the problem is serious and they seemed to be at a loss about resolving the problems. This may not be surprising as according to Rodgers, gangs are armed with high powered automatic fire arms such machine guns.
Rodger cited that even Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson admitted that the police “are fighting a losing battle” (Rodgers). Addressing the root causes of the problem will certainly help towards the gradual cooling of the issue. Indeed, drug trade is now the third largest industry in Vancouver generating between C$7 and C$8 billion a year. One reason for this upsurge of drug market according to Rodgers was the “liberal attitudes to drugs of the party-loving population” (Rodgers). Community based campaign against illegal drugs means the government authorities should establish friendly relations with the community.
This should include among others: 1. The immediate ending of all kinds of practices that might offend the populace such as arbitrary arrest, mistreatment and unnecessary use of force in violation of the due process and civil rights protection of both the Canadian law and the international law. 2. The establishment of a local agency which will be concern about human rights and health and harm reduction-based programs for drug users. 3. The establishment of independent fact finding body that will handle and investigate complaints about police misconduct and abuses.
An article entitled “Canada – Abusing the User Police Misconduct, Harm Reduction and Hiv/aids in Vancouver” has emphasized that this kind of independent investigating body should have the power “to receive and investigate complaints, identify problematic practices and policies, recommend reforms, monitor implementation of its recommendations and provide the public with reports of its activities and findings” (Human Right Watch, p. 3). The cooperation of Vancouver police department with independent investigators is extremely necessary. 4.
Provide trainings with law enforcements assigned in high drug-areas particularly on the basis of harm reduction of criminal gang activities, on the public health. 5. Dissemination of information regarding the impact of illegal drugs on the individual. It cannot be denied that a number of shooting were related to the use of illegal drugs. In other words, the city government of Vancouver should encourage the public not to use drugs for their own well being by pointing out the serious impact of drugs on one’s well being. 6. Lobby with the city council to criminalize the use of illegal drugs
By criminalizing the use of illegal drugs, the court can impose strict adherence to the law and can impose appropriate punishment on the offender. Of course this has to be done by the city council. This would not be offending to the local citizens because it is a law duly legislated by the city council and not orchestrated by the police departments. Sentencing therefore is justified and no one would dare to challenge the law. As Rodgers opening statement goes “Once upon a very recent time, Vancouver had a clean, safe image” today, all these have changed.
Nevertheless, the upsurge of the problem of Vancouver is still relatively young and with the right approach, the government can definitely address the issue. Of course, the government has all the resources to solve the problem. It also has the prerogative either to use force or to be more diplomatic in dealing with the problem. As a mature and democratic country, Vancouver is simply exploiting every possible democratic approach in order to avoid waste of life and damage to properties.
If in the end everything including these alternative courses of action fails, that would be the time when the use of deadly force becomes necessary. Recommendation Amidst the growing concern regarding the increasing violence brought by gang wars, and the frustration creeping up with the local government officials, the following are the recommendations towards effective way of solving the issue of gang violence: 1. Retraining and reorientation of police personnel especially those dealing with drugs enforcement in line with community based approached of fighting against gangs engaged in illegal drugs.
This recommendation does not imply that Vancouver police personnel lacks necessary training in fighting against gangs and other lawless criminals in the city. Indeed, the Vancouver Police Department’s (VPD) Gang Crime Unit (GCU) was organized for the sole purpose of fighting against criminal gangs operating in Vancouver (Vancouver Police Department, p. 7). This recommendation is simply aimed towards addressing the problem in a more democratic manner. In other words, it is a collective fight against gang members along with the local citizens, the media, the integrated investigative teams, the city government and all other stake holders.
As Siegel (2010) stated, “Police managers must learn how to develop community resources, design efficient and cost effective solutions to problems, and become advocates as well as agent of reform” (p. 258). 2. The city council should issue a memorandum requiring all gun owners to register their firearms and to secure license for gun ownership. The council should appoint particular deadline for registration and for securing license. Individuals that would be caught with unregistered firearms will be charge of illegal possession of deadly weapons with corresponding heavy penalties of imprisonment.
The rational for this recommendation is to identify who are responsible gun owners and those who are not, to recover or capture unregistered firearms, and ultimately, to discourage individuals to bring firearms with them. In this way, it would help reduce carrying of unregistered firearms to avoid being caught by the authorities. 3. The VPD should initiate prevention and suppression of Gang activity by protecting the most vulnerable segment of the community, the youth. This could be done by identifying particular community problems, such as drug dealers, prostitution rings, gang hangouts, and to develop strategies to address them (Siegel, p.
258), and by promoting awareness of the evils of gangs and the grave consequences of joining these criminal elements among students. In other words, this could be done in partnership with schools and other public institution where it would be possible to conduct public orientation. This recommendation is self explanatory. Nevertheless, the importance of this recommendation is that it can draw the support of the community upon realization that the law enforcement authorities are seriously doing their job towards addressing the problem.
With this kind of leadership initiative, there is a greater chance that the fight to eliminate gangs will be be successful (Administrative report, City of Vancouver, p. 1). Given memorandum, it is expected that with the implementation of the alternative courses of action when it is necessary, along with the recommendation towards effective solution to the problem of gang violence, will help in achieving the purpose of restoring the peace and order condition in Vancouver, and the good image of the city.
References Balbo, M. (2008) International Migrants and the City: Bankok, Berlin, Dakar, Karachi…USA: Social Science Culbert, L. & Wood, G. (2009) “Metro Vancouver Violence in Perspective: L. A. Has 14 Times the Shootings, Five Times the Population” The Vancouver Sun http://www. vancouversun. com/news/Metro+Vancouver+violence+perspective+times+shootings+five+times+population/1358310/story. html Human Rights Watch (2003) Canada – Abusing the User Police Misconduct, Harm Reduction and Hiv/aids in Vancouver Canada
“Late Distribution for Council- March 24, 2009” Administrative Report City of Vancouver http://vancouver. ca/ctyclerk/cclerk/20090324/documents/a15. pdf Rodgers, P. (2009) From Heaven to Hell: 18 Die as Drugs Wars Rages On Streets of Vancouver The Independent World http://www. independent. co. uk/news/world/americas/from-heaven-to-hell-18-die-as-drugs-war-rages-on-streets-of-vancouver-1663008. html