Mayor Gregor Robertson has responded to the death of a 47 yr. old homeless woman at Hornby and Davie early this morning, by stating that he is considering infringing on civil liberties. Robertson's response to the death of "Tracy", who was spotted by a taxi driver engulfed in flames at 4:30 a.m., was reported on the CKNW radio website,
"Vancouver's mayor says letting people who can't take care of themselves die in the street is immoral, and something needs to be done, even if it means treading on their civil rights."Vancouver Police already have the power under the Mental Health Act via "Car 87", a police car carrying an armed constable and a psych nurse, to apprehend people who are at imminent risk of harming themselves. That is, if it's used as it was intended. And that's a big IF.
If the Vancouver police -- both the VPD in Vancouver and the RCMP at UBC -- in conjunction with psych nurses, would stop perverting such power for political ends such as intimidating whistle blowers who are embarrassing United Way, the Vancouver School Board, or CUPE, they might be more available to help homeless people.
Last night VPD patrol officers claim they made contact with Tracy twice, the last time being around midnight. They claim they offered her shelter but she declined. It's interesting that the police then dropped the issue. If you're a whistle blower, enormous resources will be expended on portraying you as a nut, digging through your medical records. I covered one such case involving an author of a United Way report who said her Christmas holidays were ruined because the VPD and their mental health nurse kept showing up at her home, flashing the lights on the police cruiser outside to create drama. All because, as United Way admitted in the police report, they were afraid her report could affect revenues.
As Chair of the Police Board, Mayor Robertson has the power to ensure Car 87 is used as it was intended.
Careful: not all homeless people who won't go to a shelter are mentally ill. Tenant Assistant Program Coordinator Judy Graves, who walks the streets and helps the homeless get a place to stay, says some homeless people won't go to shelters because they can't take their shopping carts or their pets.