Pubdate: Sat, 21 Jun 2003
Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
Copyright: 2003 The Vancouver Sun
Author: Larry W. Campbell


Far from dismissing the Human Rights Watch report into the health impacts 
of the Vancouver Police Department enforcement program in the Downtown 
Eastside, as claimed in the Sun editorial of June 14, (Public inquiry 
needed into Vancouver), my office worked with Vancouver Coastal Health and 
the Vancouver Police Department to review as closely as possible all of the 
allegations and recommendations it contained.

Our detailed reply, which is available on the City of Vancouver Web site, 
repeated our commitment to "uphold the highest possible standards of 
ethical conduct and [to] welcome independent scrutiny to ensure those 
standards are upheld."

Our review found that the allegations that could be subjected to 
independent evaluation appeared to be unfounded. In particular, the 
allegation of an illegal strip search, which Human Rights Watch said its 
researchers had witnessed, was denied by interviews with the person 
searched, the five police involved, two paramedics and a civilian onlooker.

In addition, careful review by VCH of the health impacts of the city-wide 
Enforcement Team initiative found no clear evidence that intravenous drug 
users were reducing their access to health services as a result. This issue 
remains a concern and evaluation and monitoring measures are in place to 
allow a full and timely assessment.

I am pleased that PIVOT Legal Society has at last taken its complaints of 
police abuse to the Police Complaint Commissioner, as I have been urging 
them to do since late last year. It will be up to Commissioner Dirk 
Ryneveld to determine whether or not a public inquiry, as proposed by 
PIVOT, would be helpful.

Critical evaluation is essential to the Four Pillars strategy, but poorly 
researched or undocumented allegations can only undermine confidence in 
this difficult project. That's why it was important to take Human Rights 
Watch seriously -- and urge them to correct what I believe was an 
inadequate report.

Larry W. Campbell

Mayor, City of Vancouver
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