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COMMENTARY · 9th February 2011
Merv Ritchie
It was a blight on the face of Terrace when the BC Civil Liberties report ‘Small Town Justice’ was released. Worse however was the response by RCMP Media relations officer Inspector Tim Shields repeating statements how Terrace was a crime ridden City prior to the introduction of the Crime Reduction Unit by the New Mayor and Council elected in early 2009.

According to Terrace RCMP Inspector Dave Fenson, who was the top dog in Terrace in 2007 and 2008, Terrace had approximately 20 chronic alcoholics who the RCMP would keep an eye on to ensure they didn’t hurt themselves or come to harm. There was no crime spree and nothing abnormal about Terrace. The major concern of the day was to ensure the homeless didn’t freeze during the winter. In fact there was an interagency Committee in place to provide healthy community interactions.

If there was any high incident of crime it was the breaking of store front windows. This was not done by the homeless aboriginal male, rather it was done by a small group of bored teenagers who would set themselves up in locations where they could “watch and laugh at the cops” after they took rocks and bricks to windows. They seldom took anything.

Tim Shields exaggerated a lie to justify the imposition of a crime reduction unit imposed on the City of Terrace to satisfy the Local Chamber of Commerce who backed the newly elected Mayor.

There was a problem in Terrace with the chronic alcoholics prior to the Downtown Task Force coming into force. The same problem, drunks in the park, existed in 1967 and was the feature of a City council meeting in July of that year. What changed it was not enforcement, it was a completely different program never tried before, the Homeless Outreach Program. The effects of this program were noticed almost immediately. Business owners expressed how they were not being bothered anymore by angry drunks wanting to use the washrooms or stumbling into their storefronts.

The Homeless Outreach Program offered food, shelter, washroom facilities and a place to hangout inside. It had its growing pains but in one short year the entire downtown area was dramatically improved. The RCMP bike patrol and downtown crime reduction unit had begun in 2009 and the new Inspector, Eric Stubbs admitted they were having a difficult time locating any chronic alcoholics to deal with. In early spring 2009, shortly after the Homeless Outreach Program had begun the impact on the streets and Parks of Terrace was significant. It was due to compassion, not enforcement.

For Tim Shields to make the claim the Terrace Downtown Patrol was responsible for the change in the atmosphere and street life in Terrace is to speak from a position of complete ignorance. Quoting statistics and numbers from reports has no relationship to the actual life on the streets. The Downtown Patrol has its place and is able to respond to incidents requiring attention quickly however the major impact of the Downtown Patrol has been to instil fear and disrespect for the RCMP amongst the lower class, lower social status position, persons of Terrace.

This is the impact so evident in David Eby’s report. We have reported on this condition for years and have had numerous conversations with officers and the Inspector expressing our concerns about how the Terrace RCMP are provoking animosity, not promoting harmony. Almost all volunteers working in the social service field understand this and see it on a continuing basis.

I am not embarrassed by Terrace or the residents of the streets in Terrace. I am embarrassed by members from a team of employees who have been hired to promote a safe and a civil society that abuse that position to instil fear. Terrace is a great community, always has been. Tim Shields and the RCMP have done the disservice, not David Eby.

From the end of our report on the BCCLA release of "Small Town Justice", we repeat these links to historical reports and commentaries on the conditions discussed above.

RCMP Inspector Fenson was the officer in charge in 2007 when a Terrace City Councillor took it upon herself to find a winter home for the chronic alcoholics and homeless. The Inspector had suspended the ongoing program of consultation already in place while the Councillor did this. She inadvertently suggested “They” referring to local aboriginals, “should go back to their home communities” offending many. At this time Inspector Fenson suggested there were only 20 chronic alcoholics and the RCMP kept their eyes open for them so they would do no harm to themselves.

Read the article here.

Coining the term DIPPS (Drunks In Public Places), which the Terrace RCMP continue to use today when using their radios to communicate finding an intoxicated person, Councillor Davies seemed to have alienated the task force set up with the RCMP.

“Over the past year we met and made progress in areas of interagency cooperation and identifying greater issues and global solutions. It now appears the City of Terrace will be looking at these issues with the formation of a committee headed by Councillor Marylin Davies.” stated an email circulated on behalf of Inspector Fenson.

Read an article describing this affair written in October 2007 here.

Also in October of 2007 the Terrace Daily received a detailed account of perceived abuse from a First Nations woman at the hands of Terrace RCMP officers. Read the account here.

During the lead up to the 2008 Municipal elections the future Mayor, David Pernarowski, publically supported by the Terrace and District Chamber of Commerce, had as one of his planks a desire to free the City of panhandlers and public intoxication.
Read his contribution to the site here.

In late December 2008, a new volunteer program was quietly started to address the needs of the chronic alcoholics and homeless. Called HOPs for Homeless Outreach Program, this day center provided a location for the homeless to use the washroom facilities and get food and shelter. Social workers volunteered their time to address the needs when they became apparent.

After the election of David Pernarowski as Mayor with his new Council a downtown crime reduction unit was designed and funded with $170,000. The City presented their full City plan in March 2009.
This entire plan can be read here. The Downtown Crime Reduction Unit is detailed as an acronym DT under the heading Downtown Revitilization.

In mid April 2009, Terrace City Council passed a controversial bylaw providing the RCMP with a new set of regulations and fines they have since used to restrict access to various parts of the City. Read the report here.

In the Summer of 2009 a year after Inspector Fenson left Terrace, Staff Sergeant Stubbs was promoted to Inspector and a new Staff Sergeant was brought into Terrace.

Read about the new Staff Sergeant and his new tactics here.

The Hops center proved to be an almost fatal success story as the needs were overwhelming the ability to meet them. The following story provides some context with the homeless outreach program. Read the article published on September 18 2009 here.

The Crime Reduction Unit was reported as living up to its name in an article published much later

An overall picture and the success of the Homeless Outreach Program can be read here. It operates and feeds those in need for an average of one dollar per person per day.
Personal responsibility and legal liability
Comment by david dickinson on 14th February 2013
The approach to the alcohol problem of focussing on the drug users is pointless. The users get picked up over and over again and the cycle is never broken. If Terrace city council members are truly serious about Terrace's number one drug problem, which is obviously alcohol, they would focus on the drug pushers, not the little guys on the street. It's the drug dealers who are making massive profits at the expense of public safety. The problem is that the alcohol dealers are not youth or the homeless, no -- they are wealthy people with standing in the community.

So it's not really about public safety at all, is it? The real culprits not only go free, without any negative consequences, but they get rich from the dangerous drugs they sell!

There is a real solution, but nobody's bothering to try it. We know for a fact that the advertising campaign to reduce tobacco consumption has been wildly successful. There is no reason why a similar campaign to reduce alcohol consumption wouldn't work. But the reason why the politicians and RCMP do nothing to reduce alcohol consumption is that this would cause economic hardship to the dealers (that is, the liquor store owners, including the Liquor Distribution Branch, and liquor licence holders).

We can either cater to business owners and have an unsafe society or we can reduce alcohol consumption and have a safer society. Can't have it both ways...
I beg to differ Stacey.
Comment by James Ippel on 12th February 2011
To the best of my knowledge, the added police presence in the downtown core, and in George Little Park, was in direct relation to the intoxicated adult panhandlers. This, along with the open unrination, defication, and sometimes fornication in the park sparked added police presence.
I am sure that even you have to admit that the Park is now a place where you can take your family and enjoy yourself with being accosted by a panhandling intoxicated person (male/female). It is also nice to walk the downtown area, and the shopping mall parking lots with absolutely minimum confrontation with panhandlers.
Hopefully you have been watching the news, and seen where a Judge threw out charges against a poice officer for kicking a subject in the process of an arrest. The Judge found that because of the violence displayed by the arrestee, police actions were justified. For the majority of times that an arrest is make, the person is compliant with police demands, these are not portrayed in the media, but heaven forbid, one does not comply, throws a punch/kick at an officer, who in turn uses force to subdue, and it is all over the medial.
I do like your last paragraph. Unfortunately, as long as there is one segement in our society that keeps attaching blame to the police for perseived wrongs we are not going to resovle anything.
Alex Reinhard
Comment by Sheldon Davidson on 12th February 2011
Merv, thank you for doing the right thing. It is ashame that one person can ruin an intelligent debate for everybody.

I want it to be known that I have been contacted by "Alex Reinhard" from his "bigswissman,,," account and the letters were aggressive to say the least.

His email header shows his name is "Bill Kazmaier" comming from telus IP on Fri, 11 Feb 2011 15:01:18 -0800.

Long story short, he said he would come into my work and "smash me"

(edited due to liabilities)

Lets clear up a few facts.
Comment by Stacey Tyers on 11th February 2011
A huge part of the absence of druunken people in public downtown is the HOP centre.

The purpose of the additional police, was primarily for the drunken YOUTH, not so much the homeless.

I don't hate police, I don't hate the public. I believe there are laws and those laws need to be abided. Including by police.

I believe that your rights when someone is drunk in public, is to phone the police. The police's right is to come and move that person. The police are trained to behave in a manner which is professional and causes the least amount of harm to the person they are taking into custody, because here's the difficult part for people to understand in THIS country, when someone is drunk in public, behaving illegally, behaving in an inappropriate but maybe NOT illegal kind of way, they STILL have rights.

Your rights do not cease to exsist because of whatever action one takes. Many people wish they would and yes, even me at times wish they would. However, they don't. It is the police's job to uphold the law, the law entitles people to their basic civil rights.

Which include not being beaten on when you are subdued.

Which include not getiting shot leaving police facility in hand cuffs.

They include not being sent out into the parking lot in the cold to find your pants that were taken.

Many other examples. I am sure you will have many, many good arguments and counter points, however in the end the law IS the law and does not entitle police to behave outside of it. Just like if as a citizen you break the law there should be consequences.

If we could all stop pointing fingers, and actually get down to ways to resolve this for BOTH sides, we all might be a little happier.
Comment by Alex Reinhard 632 4501 on 11th February 2011
We apologize to our readers. The number Alex has provided is not in service and he has not responded to our email requests. We generally ensure the identity of all our commenters and after the request by Sheldon for us to ensure, to recheck this poster; we have discovered he never did respond to our requests for identity. However the email address "Big Swiss Man" at hotmail does not come back as undeliverable so we assume it has been received.

If we do not receive a response we will search our sites for his comments, post an apology on each story he has commented on, and delete all the comments.

Thank you for your understanding and we again apologise for the lack of our duty to check.

Comment by Stacey Tyers on 10th February 2011
I don't know Mr. Parker in any way shape or form.

But I don't think the bias lies with me.

I think we need to use this report as a building bridge between rcmp and community. I think there are wrongs and rights on both sides.

But I do have a bias to civil liberties, peoples rights and who and how those rights are protected or taken.

Lets not call the kettle black though Alex, the whole problem with most of your comments is your leap to assumptions. As you have done here, again.
Alex Reinhard
Comment by Sheldon Davidson on 10th February 2011
Im not trying to cause a flame war here but I believe we may we have a troll on the terrace daily.

I would like to humbly ask Merv attempt to authenticate Alex Reinhard by phone once more to confirm that he/she is not an agent of the RCMP.

One thing is for sure; Alex is all for a police state. Alex's attitude of "obey or be crushed" is typical of propagandists in favor of the Prison Industrial Complex.

Alex; I am convinced you are either working for the RCMP or you are simply making comments in an attempt to cause anger in the people who read your comments.

If neither is the case and you simply love the RCMP for whatever reason, please contact me so you can prove me wrong. At the very least I would like to sit down and have a cup of tea with you so I can try to understand why some one would say things like "..Don't be a drunk trouble maker and your night will end smoothly.." (in other words, stay home, be safe, you're government is in control; disobey and get your face caved in).

As for your troll comments (if you're a troll and not a cop) they wont work on me. I've been trolling for far too long to rage at what some one says on the internet. :)

All troll comments aside, even if Shane does not win his case the RCMP are still a mafia and something needs to be done to re-gain control of our streets. They investigate themselves, they have guns and they think they have the power to do whatever they want.

James Ippel said:
" Mr Parker seems to have a history of interfering with police "

This may be true but it is for the Judge to decide.

You know what else is true? RCMP violations of human rights.

Ian Bush murdered by bullet to the back of the head? Paid vacation for the RCMP officers involved. No Charges laid.

Robert Dziekanski murder by taser? Paid vacation for the RCMP officers involved and no charges laid.

There are more examples but these ones come to mind quickly.

Comment by James Ippel on 10th February 2011
I must agree with Mr Peters in this case. Why, do you ask?
To begin with, Mr Parker was interfereing with the Police carrying out their lawful duty, and this , it seems, was not the first time. If one feels that one has a legitimate complaint against the Police, file a complaint. "DO NOT" interfere in an arrest in an already highly volitile situation.
Stacey: you state that regardless of how Shane Parker behaved, it should not result in excessive violence. I interpret that you are saying he could do what he wanted and expected no reprocussions. Yes, police are trained to deal with idiots in the least violent way,but sometimes in the heat of the moment--getting kicked in the testicles, having your boob grabbed, squeezed and twisted, this training goes out the window, and it is survival of the fittest.
Ben there, done that!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Bottom line, Mr Parker seems to have a history of interfering with police proceedure and now has a lawyer who might just get him a few dollars.
Comment by Stacey Tyers on 10th February 2011
Good thing you are not the judge then Rudi.

As you've already decided what happened and you are not privy to the evidence, the testimonies or anything else.

The reality is, regardless of how Shane Parker behaved, it should not result in excessive violence. Police are trained to deal with people in the least violent way as possible.

I say excessive because I am reasonable and understand that sometimes police need to use force. But the question is when does that cross a line?

THAT is for the courts to decide.

Comment by Terrance E. Hudson on 10th February 2011
I represent Mr. Parker in this proceeding. While I cannot discuss the details of Mr. Parker's claims, as they are before the Court, I can however refer you to the BC Supreme Court Rules, and in particular Rule 9-5 which provides as follows:

Scandalous, frivolous or vexatious matters

(1) At any stage of a proceeding, the court may order to be struck out or amended the whole or any part of a pleading, petition or other document on the ground that

(a) it discloses no reasonable claim or defence, as the case may be,

(b) it is unnecessary, scandalous, frivolous or vexatious,

(c) it may prejudice, embarrass or delay the fair trial or hearing of the proceeding, or

(d) it is otherwise an abuse of the process of the court,

and the court may pronounce judgment or order the proceeding to be stayed or dismissed and may order the costs of the application to be paid as special costs.

Litigants that pursue a "scandalous, frivolous or vexatious claim" are at substantial risk of an adverse award of Court Costs against them personally which literally can run into the tens of thousands of dollars.

Moreover, lawyers, as "Officers of the Court" are bound by the Rules of Professional Conduct, which provide as follows:

Chapter 8: The Lawyer As Advocate:
Prohibited conduct

1. A lawyer must not:

(a) abuse the process of a court or tribunal by instituting or prosecuting proceedings that, although legal in themselves, are clearly motivated by malice on the part of the client and are brought solely for the purpose of injuring another party,

(b) knowingly assist the client to do anything or acquiesce in the client doing anything dishonest or dishonourable,
(e) knowingly assert something for which there is no reasonable basis in evidence, or the admissibility of which must first be established,

Mr. Parker has initiated a Claim that he believes he has the requisite factual foundation to support the claim. Ultimately it is up to the Court to determine whether or not the case is made out.