Langford responds to my Gangs, Crime & Street Life in Gangford blog. The City is hearing your voices. Please read it’s response and my reply thereto.
City of Langford Response
My name is Lorne Fletcher and I am the Manager of Community Safety and Municipal Enforcement for the City of Langford.
I am taking this opportunity to reply to your message and provide you with some information which I hope will help toward resolving those fears you have expressed – this is in addition to letting you know that our Mayor and our members of Council are aware of the concerns you have relayed within your message.
You have mentioned the apprehension you are experiencing as a result of recent media reports around certain incidents. I‘m pleased that you have brought these concerns forward.
As a community we can all work together to address the type of activity that isn’t welcome here. In the interest of preserving safer streets, Parks and Trails, the City and many of our citizens work closely with our RCMP by taking an active role in reporting these activities. As you might appreciate, we simply cannot expect to place a police officer at every corner and so it is up to each of us as residents to never hesitate reporting situations that we believe to be troubling or out of character for our neighbourhoods, or those areas we are travelling [sic] through. The police are very interested to learn when and where any suspicious activity occurs, so they can implement measures to deliberately watch these locations and effect investigations and arrests where possible.
You haven’t named the actual area of Langford where you have the greatest concern, but if you are willing to advise me of any location causing you unease, I would certainly be willing to pass the information along to the Officers in charge of the General Duty patrols units of our local police. If you would prefer to quietly make such reports directly to the police on your own, you would be well received by calling the West Shore RCMP detachment and ask to speak with an Officer or the Watch Commander on duty. When calling, it would be tremendously helpful if you could provide information to the RCMP such as person or vehicle descriptions and certainly license plate details. A good description of the individuals you notice engaged in any suspicious activity will assist the RCMP too.
You have suggested additional police presence would help you feel at ease. I can advise the subject of police numbers is very regularly reviewed and adjusted as necessary. I have been with the City of Langford in a Community Safety capacity for over 20 years and I know that over those years, our Mayor and Council have never hesitated to increase the number of our RCMP Officers where it has been deemed appropriate or necessary. In addition to police, the City of Langford operates night time security patrols and we also have our Bylaw Enforcement Officers (Peace Officers) patrolling trails and Parks – especially during evenings and weekends in the summer months. We can divert these patrols to areas that we hear are causing people concern too.
I look forward to hearing more from you and I do encourage you to join the many citizens in our community who actively push back against all illegal activity – this way the criminal element will learn they cannot hide their activities from us.
I appreciate getting any feedback you can offer.
Lorne Fletcher, Manager
Community Safety and Municipal Enforcement
My Reply On Your Behalf
Thank you for your letter, but I think you have missed the point. I will reiterate it here and expand upon it somewhat in order to clarify the concerns.
Treating Symptoms Does Not Cure the Disease
What you appear to be discussing are merely the symptoms of the disease, with those symptoms being the increased “break and enters”, the alarming number of home invasions lately, the rising rate of vehicle break ins, and the victimization of vulnerable individuals in the parks, etc.
Of course you can hire extra private security who can do nothing more than discourage those activities by their presence, and you can send your Bylaw Officers out with their ticket books and their radios, but neither of those solutions are going to solve your problems.
The Real Disease
What I am trying to make you aware of is that these things are occurring because of organized gangs (not to be mistaken with street gangs) setting up safe houses for the distribution of drugs to tiers of dealers underneath them. It is those dealers underneath them to whom they sell that bring the problems to the streets of Langford because it is these smaller dealers who attract the violent and opportunistic users.
Thus, the problem cannot be effectively attacked until the mid level dealers who are the direct magnets to the street users are rooted out, as well as those higher level dealers above them. This is the area of expertise of the RCMP and I would not pretend to know what budget it might require.
No Cop On Every Corner and No More Blah, Blah, Blah
I never suggested a cop on every corner; I simply pointed out that private security reporting on instances after the fact, which was the suggestion of Mayor Young, would be ineffective and was merely blah, blah, blah.
I might add that it is not my job to patrol the streets and point out the problem areas to you. In fact, I would be shocked if the RCMP did not know those areas already.
I mean you no disrespect, but you are the ones in a position of governance and it is your job to clean up the mess that has been created under your watch. Frankly, as much your response is appreciated, at least from my viewpoint, it has more of a ring of PR to it than that of a sincere effort to understand and actually attack the problem, and as far as “twenty years” experience at the job goes, “Why is Langford in the current position if those twenty years are so meaningful?”
THIS IS NOT ABOUT “FEELING AT EASE” AS YOU SAY; THIS IS ABOUT ACTUALLY BEING SAFE
This is not about feelings; this is about reality. A police car does not necessarily make me feel at ease, especially if I am illegally parked. The presence of police and the need for more officers is not about feelings. The public needs more police, not so police can be seen, but so its families will know that there is not a drug dealer next door or down the street and so those families will know that nobody is lurking around the schools trying to sell drugs.
This is about RCMP having the funding needed to form an effective drug intelligence unit, find out where the mid to high level drug dealers are residing and kicking in their doors and arresting them. When they are gone, the street users will go with them, Mayor Young won’t need any “private security” and the city won’t need to be talking to us about “feelings”.
1. Speak with RCMP, letting them know that you want a solution to this problem and asking them exactly what budget they require. Don’t ask for a “scrape by ” budget, but instead for an “in an ideal world” budget, or at the very least something in between.
2. Provide RCMP with the requested budget so it can have the needed tools and resources.
3. Institute RCMP recommendations as soon as possible
4. Pass a bylaw outlawing the sale of drug paraphernalia such as depicted in my “Drugs and Crime Besieging Langford” posting and have your Bylaw Officers enforce that ban. This is where Bylaw Officers are useful, not in protecting the public, but in actually doing the job they were hired to do, enforcing bylaws.
5. If not already in existence, institute drug education programs in your school and/or redouble your efforts with those programs if they already exist.
As far as “when the criminal element will learn they cannot hide their activity from us” goes, They will learn it when they are sitting in jail talking to their attorneys, not a moment sooner, no matter who tosses whatever rhetoric around.
People, you are starting to be heard. Now is the time to double your efforts and ensure that you are not silenced by some misleading PR campaign. Share this blog with your friends and neighbors; write letters to newspapers and TV stations and get louder, not softer. Each of you can contribute and be heard as a stampede of voices. Go to City Council meetings; become involved, insist on actions, not blah, blah, blah, and you will become the solution that you have started.
Important: City of Langford Feedback Form
Included with this post is a link to the City of Gangford feedback form provided by a reader.
Please click the link and please send your thoughts to the city. If you get a response from the city, please share it with me, firstname.lastname@example.org, so I can alert everyone as to the “blah, blah, blah” produced by Stew Young’s public relations machine.