Back of the Book
Delta Police Chief to community: please stay home
By Neil Dubord
An online letter to keep the frontline safe
By Neil Dubord
This letter was originally published here on March 23, 2020.
As the leader of the Delta Police Department, one of the many key areas of focus for me during this time of crisis is to keep my organization healthy. Why? Because our officers and essential support staff are a critical part of the front line that is working around the clock to keep our community safe. If your role in the organization does not include working on the frontline to serve the community then it becomes your responsibility to serve those that are on the frontline serving the community.
We have seen images of hoarding, we have seen groups of people defy government’s plea to stay home and social distance, and with all of this uncertainty and anxiety, we may unfortunately see a spike in crime; crime of opportunity as well as violent crime such as domestic violence. Crime will not stop while we all battle COVID-19.
Recognizing how imperative it is that we keep our frontline safe, I have to protect them when they do respond to your call for help. Last week we issued a media release explaining some changes to our service delivery, including taking property crime calls over the phone. E-Comm is screening callers so that police officers and other first responders can protect themselves. We will continue to respond to crimes in progress, violent crime and traffic collisions. We are still ‘no call too small’, it may just look a little different for now.
Currently, all police departments in B.C., including the Delta Police Department, are being inundated with calls from the public of:
- people showing signs of sickness and are not self-isolating,
- people not keeping a safe distance from each other,
- neighbours having more than 50 people over, and
- youth using parks when they are not supposed to.
Much of our pandemic planning to date has focused on how to manage our calls for service in addition to these new public health complaints, but there are too many. We need the public’s assistance. Everyone has to do their part as the police cannot do it alone. Delta has always been known for its model of community policing that has the citizens working together with the police. Now more than ever, we need everyone’s assistance – and by that I mean, please stay home and listen to the experts.
I never imagined that a time would come in my career that we as police may be called to restrict the public’s movements. That we may at some point be asked by the government to ensure people stayed in their homes. But this is a time unlike anything we have witnessed. This pandemic will impact our younger generations in ways we don’t yet understand. It is also a time that we all must be patient with our governments, our health authorities and our first responders as they face insurmountable pressure. We too are grappling with today’s reality and we may make a few mistakes navigating these uncharted waters. Perfection can be the enemy of getting things done, and in an environment where things are changing by the hour, if we wait for perfection it may be too late.
Neil Dubord is the chief of police for the Delta Police Department in British Columbia.