How Vancouver Police plan to tackle the opioid crisis moving forward

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Vancouver Police are tackling high-level drug dealers as part of their five-year plan to make the city safer and to deal with the ongoing opioid overdose epidemic.

“If you’re just going after street level people that are trafficking, you’re not going to get the same bang for your buck. So, our focus is definitely on higher level traffickers now,” explains Chief Constable Adam Palmer. “Our focus, since about 2014 has really been on higher level traffickers and that will continue to be the focus on fentanyl traffickers.”

Last month, Palmer and Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson called on the provincial government to help control the ongoing opioid crisis in the province. And Palmer adds he’s going to continue to advocate for more on-demand treatment services to help people get off drugs. Palmer feels there are gaps in the system and more needs to be done to increase treatment options, as opposed to just focusing on prevention.

“I think a lot of things are being done. It’s not just about dealing with the front-line traffickers on the road, on the street that you would see in certain parts of the city. Patrol officers and some of our beat officers do deal with those issues on a regular basis, but really we found better use of our time going up in the food chain and we see significant amounts of drugs and get significant sentences for people that are higher up in the food chain.”

The goal ensuring people feel safe is also part of the force’s five-year plan, which includes fostering trust in the community and with community leaders, working with mental health partners, fighting property and violent crimes and improving road safety.

The department’s six-point strategy covers 2017 to 2021 and was based on community meetings, written and online surveys conducted in 2015.

Palmer says some parts of the plan remain consistent, however, innovations highlighting a stepped-up focus on mental health, as well as the development of cutting-edge software to help the department identify trends and remain a step ahead of potential offenders to prevent crime is also key.

He says for the first time in nearly a decade, the force will also review its staffing levels to ensure it has enough officers moving forward, but couldn’t comment on whether city hall was prepared to pay for that.

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