The Vancouver Police Department (VPD)’s response to COVID-19 has been unacceptable. Over-policing the Downtown Eastside (DTES) during a pandemic is inconsistent not only with Charter and human rights, but also prevailing public health advisories. At a time when DTES residents are particularly vulnerable in terms of their health, safety, and economic condition, VPD are doubling down on the criminal law at direct cost to the DTES and the community at large.
We are calling on the VPD to do the following:
1. Cease over-policing people who use drugs
2. Minimize policing of informal economies
3. Cease over-policing of unsheltered people
4. Minimize contact with the criminal justice system
We implore the VPD to undertake evidence-based responses to public health crises and cease enforcement activities that jeopardize access to health, safety, and dignity.