End discriminatory policing
COPE will work for a reduced police budget; improved accountability and independent police oversight; for the elimination of of civic bylaws that police public space and criminalize low-income and vulnerable people, including survival sex workers; and for the implementation of a system of police training that acknowledges systemic violence.
COPE’s policing policies are based in the recognition that Indigenous people and people of visible minority are disproportionately circulated through the criminal justice system and disproportionately subjected to practices of police profiling. Discriminatory profiling is expressed at all levels of law enforcement but is particularly evident in the City of Vancouver DTES by-law ticketing strategy; in 2013, 95% of all vending tickets and 76% of all jaywalking tickets across the city were handed out in the Downtown Eastside.
The Vancouver Police Department’s policy of proactive rather than service-based policing has also escalated the number of random checks (“CPIC stops”), stop and frisk, and arrests based on suspicion in the City of Vancouver, contributing to an atmosphere of armed surveillance that works against evidence-based strategies of community support and social empowerment.
COPE will respond to emerging policing trends that fail to respond to the growing gap between urban elites and low-income populations. An emerging “mental health crisis” has been used as a justification for increased police spending instead of broad social supports, an approach that will stigmatize individuals while exacerbating the growing trend of police violence against perceived mentally ill residents, often resulting in death. In the absence of other support systems, and in the absence of VPD prioritization of clear procedures and practical de-escalation, police are also often unnecessarily confrontational in strained situations.
These interconnected problems are compounded by the absence of a truly independent system of police accountability in Vancouver. The current Office of the Police Complaints Commissioner is not a fully independent body, staffed instead by retired municipal police and RCMP and burdened with unnecessary reporting obligations to the VPD.
COPE's Policing Platform
Public Accountability and Independent oversight
COPE will ensure that the VPD complaints process will be monitored by a completely independent body, with a proper budget and no reporting obligations to the VPD.
COPE will create a civilian-run police complaints system empowered to conduct investigations and order police to co-operate with enforcement decisions. COPE will also explore ways to support third-party independent, community-led police oversight organizations.
Reducing and reallocating police spending
COPE supports a platform of returning to pre-2008 levels of police financing, and possibly lower depending on the results of a municipal “Budget Priorities” participatory community consultation process. The purpose of this policy is to transfer finances away from policing and into housing, social services and other essential community initiatives.
COPE will reallocate police resources be to ensure full and proper investigation of complaints of male violence against women, in keeping with the full recommendations of the Murdered and Missing Women’s Commission of Inquiry.
COPE supports community infrastructures and organizations that help individuals address systemic violence in their communities without sole recourse to police and government authorities;
More training, better education
Under COPE, the VPD will engage in regular and frequent mandatory training sessions on current and historic colonial violence in Vancouver, particularly addressing systemic misogyny and racism.
COPE WILL support VPD training session that include the voices and priorities of marginalized groups, including but not limited to Sikh, Muslim, Black, Indigenous, First Nations, Metis, Inuit, transgender people, Queer people of colour and other racialized communities.
Under COPE, police will explicitly rely upon and incorporate learning from local grassroots organizations recognized as front-line experts in violence against women, including transgender women.
End targeting of marginalized groups and visible minorities
COPE WILL eliminate civic bylaws that police public space and function to criminalize the lives and bodies of survival street-level sex workers and other low-income and vulnerable people.
COPE WILL declare warrants or arrests unenforceable for those who are seeking police support against violence and abuse, following the recommendations of the Murdered and Missing Women’s Commission of Inquiry.
COPE will make the enforcement of provincial and federal anti-squatting laws the lowest policing priority.
Photo credit: Photagenic