B.C. creates enforcement teams in 12 communities to tackle repeat violent offenders
April 12, 2023 By The Canadian Press
Apr. 13, 2023, Nanaimo, B.C. – The British Columbia government says it’s forming teams of police, prosecutors and probation officers to tackle repeat violent offenders in an effort to improve public safety.
Premier David Eby said Wednesday there would be 12 law enforcement hubs in communities across the province dedicated to investigating, monitoring and preventing acts of violence that are often committed by the same few prolific offenders.
“From Surrey to Cranbrook, Kamloops to Prince George and up to Terrace, the focus will be on driving down repeat violent offending in every region of British Columbia,” said Eby outside the courthouse in Nanaimo.
The other communities involved in the program are Victoria, Vancouver, New Westminster, Abbotsford, Nanaimo, Kelowna and Williams Lake.
“To everyone listening today, the message is this: if you break the law, there will be serious consequences. If you need support to break the cycle of offending, it will be available to you.”
The Opposition BC Liberals have been calling on the government to introduce tougher public safety measures, citing numerous incidents of violent crimes allegedly connected to people who were arrested and released, only to be involved in other violence shortly afterwards.
Eby, who was loudly heckled during the announcement, said the new regional hubs are part of the government’s Repeat Violent Offending Intervention Initiative and will help prosecutors, police and corrections officials focus on specific prolific offenders to keep communities safe.
“These regional hubs are just one measure in our safer communities action plan,” he said. “In addition, a new specialized investigation and targeted enforcement program, also known as SITE, will be rolling out soon. SITE will boost resources to help police with investigations and targeted enforcement of repeat violent offenders.”
The government will invest $16 million over three years to help law enforcement investigate repeat violent offenders and improve information sharing between police agencies, said Eby.
Nanaimo Mayor Leonard Krog said he was thankful the government had said it was prepared to work with his community and others to reduce incidents of repeat violent crime.
But he added: “Let’s be candid, we face in our streets across this province the result of 30 and 40 years of failed social and health policies.”
He said governments are recognizing the need to enhance and ensure public safety, but much work remains on the deep health and social issues that contribute to people’s misery and unsafe communities.
“As I have reminded everybody, the people who are living in our streets, the people who are suffering, are someone’s sons and daughters and brothers and sisters and grandchildren, and none of us can live in a happy, healthy community while people continue to suffer in our streets, and in their worst behaviour commit criminal acts that disturb and frighten us,” said Krog.
Island District RCMP commander Supt. Ray Carfantan, who was also at the news conference, said officers supported the initiatives and looked forward to working on them with the community.
Brian Sauve, president and CEO of the National Police Federation, said in a statement that it also backed the B.C. measures.
“We welcome additional prosecution teams and police partnerships across the province to help address repeat and violent offending and the revolving door of the court system; both of which have a significant impact on public safety and are highly discouraging to members who work diligently and often at personal risk to keep their communities safe,” he said.
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